Our society faces problems of violence at various levels, and this is why The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is important. It was created to support victims of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. VAWA grants the possibility to immigrants who have been abused by a person who has a legal status in this Country to obtain immigration status while protecting their personal integrity. It is important to mention that although VAWA was established to protect women, men can also benefit from it and apply for immigrant benefits if they can prove that they have been abused and fulfilled all the requirements. Direct family members of the victim can also benefit from the VAWA program if the petitioner is deemed to be qualified.
The following individuals can submit a VAWA Self-Petition:
- Spouse, intended spouse, or former spouse of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR);
- Child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent; or.
- Parent of an abusive U.S. citizen son or daughter who is 21 years old or older.
VAWA Processing Time
After the filing Form I-360 with USCIS, it takes approximately 23.5 months to 30.5 months (at the time of writing) to process the VAWA petition. If the Petitioner is found qualified, USCIS will issue a Prima Facie Determination Notice which is valid for 150 days, the notice can be used by the Petitioner to get public benefits from state and federal agencies.
Employment Authorization Document for VAWA
Having an approved I-360 petition allows the Petitioner to remain lawfully in the United States. Moreover, the Petitioner can apply for a work authorization document “EAD”. The work authorization is valid for 2 years.
Adjustment of Status under VAWA
If the abuser has U.S. Citizenship, the Petitioner (victim) may begin to undertake further steps that will lead him/her to get his/her green card as soon as USCIS approves the I-360 Self-Petition. This process involves filing I-485 to adjust status.
However, if the abuser is a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), the Petitioner may have to wait for a visa to become available to be able to apply for his/her green card.
The process of filing a VAWA petition can be overwhelming. The Attorneys at Patel Law Group, PLLC recommend that individuals seek professional advice and support throughout the whole process.
If you have questions about VAWA please contact the Immigration Team at email@example.com.