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VAWA Self Petitioning

Violence Against Women Act (1995) is a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, codified in Section 204(a).

Under VAWA, battered spouses or children may self-petition for lawful permanent residence under the Act, without the batterer’s knowledge

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VAWA Self Petitioning

  2. 2. What is the VAWA Act? <ul><li>Violence Against Women Act (1995) is a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, codified in Section 204(a). </li></ul><ul><li>The act was reorganized and expanded in 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) may petition for immigration benefits on behalf of spouses and children, but some abusive citizens may take advantage of this by controlling the process. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, under VAWA, battered spouses or children may self-petition for lawful permanent residence under the Act, without the batterer’s knowledge. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why is self-petitioning important? <ul><li>It’s important that the battering spouse is not aware of the petition because this may increase his violent behavior toward the petitioner. </li></ul><ul><li>Battering spouses may use the process of applying for Lawful Permanent Resident Status as a way to control their spouses and children. </li></ul><ul><li>The Law Offices of Sunita Kapoor recognizes the importance of preserving the safety and independence of the self-petitioner. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Who can self-petition? <ul><li>Three categories may self-petition under VAWA: 1) Parents of battered children </li></ul><ul><li>2) The battered spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) </li></ul><ul><li>3) The battered child of a U.S. citizen or LPR. The child of the batterer must be under 21 and unmarried. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Requirements for VAWA Self-Petitioning <ul><li>If a battered spouse, the petitioner must have been legally married to a U.S. citizen or LPR. A person may also petition if the marriage was terminated because of divorce or death of the abuse spouse, not more than 2 years ago. </li></ul><ul><li>The abuse must have taken place in the United States (unless the batterer is a U.S. government employee) </li></ul><ul><li>The self petitioner must be a person of good moral character, and </li></ul><ul><li>Must have entered into the marriage in good faith. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Requirements for VAWA Self Petitioning <ul><li>If a battered child, the self-petitioner must meet the definition of “child” in the INA. </li></ul><ul><li>Any relevant credible evidence of the parent/child relationship is admissible. </li></ul>
  7. 7. How can a petitioner apply for benefits? <ul><li>Complete and file USCIS form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow (er) or Special Immigrant). </li></ul><ul><li>Send the I-360 by certified return receipt mail to the Vermont Service Center </li></ul><ul><li>Note: if the batterer has filed an I-360 in the past, but it was withdrawn or pending, that form can be transferred to the self-petitioner so the wait time will be shorter. </li></ul><ul><li>To obtain a form, go to, or call 1-800-870-3676, or call the Law Offices of Sunita Kapoor at (713) 782-3332. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Prima Facie Determination <ul><li>Some applicants who can establish a prima facie case automatically qualify for public benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>Those who qualify are given a Notice of Prima Facie Determination, which they can present for 150 days to state and federal agencies to obtain public benefits. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Adjustment to Permanent Resident Status <ul><li>Self petitioners who are spouses and children of U.S. citizens can immediately file the I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), and do not have to wait for their immigrant visa number (this can take 2-10 years). </li></ul>
  10. 10. Employment Authorization <ul><li>With an approved I-360, petitioning spouses and their children can file an I-785 (employment authorization) form. </li></ul><ul><li>The I-785 should be filed along with the I-360 approval and sent to the Vermont Service Center. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Appealing a Denial <ul><li>A notice of appeal should be filed with the Vermont Service Center 33 days after receipt of the denial letter </li></ul><ul><li>Many petitions are denied because of missing information or incorrect forms. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Assistance with VAWA Self-petitioning <ul><li>The process is complicated and all forms must be completed thoroughly. The process must be kept confidential. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, it is a good idea to have help with the VAWA Self-petitioning process. </li></ul><ul><li>The Law Offices of Sunita Kapoor are experienced in handling VAWA self-petitioning cases. </li></ul><ul><li>We prepare and mail all necessary forms for you. </li></ul><ul><li>Your case will always be kept confidential,. We are dedicated to ensuring you are not denied Permanent Resident Status because of a technicality. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Contacting Us <ul><li>The Law Offices of Sunita Kapoor is located at </li></ul><ul><li>2825 Wilcrest Dr. Suite 361 </li></ul><ul><li>Houston, TX 77042 </li></ul><ul><li>Our office number: </li></ul><ul><li>(713) 782-3332 </li></ul><ul><li>Our fax number: </li></ul><ul><li>(713) 782-3339 </li></ul>