VAWA before USCIS

When Can I File for a VAWA Green Card?

A foreigner can file VAWA in Court, before an Immigration Judge in deportation proceedings. This is used when the government has started Immigration Court proceedings and the non-citizens are defending themselves from deportation.

For most, the foreigner’s path to a Green Card begins with VAWA before USCIS, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.  This process begins by filing the Form I-360 self-petition. The survivor does not trust the abusive family member to sponsor them for a Green Card. If the abuser is a US citizen, the survivor can usually also file at the same time Form I-485, an application for residency, with US Citizenship & Immigration.

How Long to Process Form I-360?

Processing times vary depending on the priorities of the US Department of Homeland Security.  Cases are also processed more quickly if the documents and information submitted clearly meet the requirements of the law.  For example, a case where a victim does not provide proof of the marital relationship or proof of the abuser’s immigration status will take longer than a case where the victim provides copies of joint children’s birth certificates and a copy of the abuser’s US passport.

Will Immigration Contact My Spouse?

It is illegal for a government employee to release any information concerning a battered spouse or child.  A fear of being further abused does not have to prevent someone from filing VAWA with USCIS. The abuser will not know.

Also, although abuse survivors may need to appear for an Immigration interview on the self-petition, the violent family members are not required to appear for interviews.  This is true regardless of whether the abuser is a spouse, parent or adult child.

In one case, an abuser was willing to appear at an Immigration interview because he did not feel that his threats to his wife amounted to abuse.  As soon as he left the room, the Immigration Officer granted the case.

What Will Immigration Ask at VAWA Interview?

In addition to filing VAWA with USCIS, the Blandon Law team prepares clients for Immigration interviews.  One team member organizes the file for the interview.  After the needed documents have been gathered, the attorney speaks with the client to discuss possible questions and proper responses. Because each case is different, the advice given to each client is different.  

Although the child of an abuse survivor can receive a Green Card without filing a separate VAWA with USCIS, their participation is limited in an Immigration interview.  The best way to prepare for an Immigration interview is by listening closely to the attorney’s advice during the preparation.

Will I Be Deported if My VAWA Case is Denied?

Any foreigner can be placed before an Immigration Judge, including persons with Green Cards.  The government is unlikely to place an undocumented abuse survivor in deportation proceedings while they make a decision on Form I-360. 

If the filed VAWA with USCIS is denied by the agency, however, they may put the case before an Immigration Judge.  If the foreigner does not file VAWA with USCIS a second time, they can also file VAWA in Court.