Advantages of filing under VAWA

What are the advantages of filing under VAWA?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) if you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by:

  1. A U.S. citizen spouse or former spouse;
  2. A U.S. citizen parent;
  3. A U.S. citizen son or daughter;
  4. A lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or former spouse; or
  5. An LPR parent.

You may self-petition under VAWA by filing a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) without your abusive family member’s knowledge or consent. A person who files a VAWA self-petition is generally known as a VAWA self-petitioner. If your self-petition is approved and you meet other eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to apply to become a lawful permanent resident.

Who qualifies for VAWA adjustment of status?

To be eligible for a Green Card as a VAWA self-petitioner, you must meet the following requirements:
You properly file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
You are physically present in the United States at the time you file your Form I-485;
You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa;
An immigrant visa is immediately available to you at the time you file your Form I-485 and when USCIS makes a final decision on your application;
None of the bars to adjustment of status apply to you;
You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief; and
You merit the favorable exercise of USCIS’ discretion.

Who are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa?

You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa based on:
An approved VAWA self-petition (Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant);

A previously filed VAWA self-petition that remains pending (if ultimately approved); or
A VAWA self-petition (if ultimately approved) filed together with your Form I-485.

What is the processing time for VAWA?

The processing time for a VAWA I-360 petition can vary depending on the case and the backlog of applications.
It can take between 16 to 26 months to process a VAWA petition. However, it can take at least 2.5 years to get approved. The USCIS may have questions for the victim or require additional documentation.

Once the applicant is prima facie eligible, they may apply for work authorization.
Once the I-360 is granted, the petitioner does not obtain legal status in the United States. The petitioner should apply for adjustment when they are eligible to do so.

VAWA allows the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to apply for a green card without the help of their abusive spouse. The VAWA application process is usually a two-step process:

1.File a VAWA self-petition.
2.File the application for adjustment of status after the VAWA application is approved.

If you are a VAWA self-petitioner seeking to adjust status as an immediate relative, you can file the I-485 at any time because visas are always immediately available for immediate relatives. If you are seeking to adjust under a family-based preference category, you may need to wait for a visa to become available.

Note: This is not legal advice. You should consult with an immigration attorney about the specifics of your case.


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If you have immigration problems the Law Offices of Crispin C. Lozano can help you find a solution before your problem gets worse, which could lead to deportation and family separation.

Chris Caday Lozano, Esq. is an active member of the State Bar of California, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and San Francisco Trial Lawyers. He has practiced immigration law and bankruptcy since June 1999. His contact phone is 1-877-456-9266, email: Website: with offices in Hayward and Cerritos, CA.

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