In this post we will discuss how to apply for VAWA self petition. Before we dive into the details, please read the information below:
The federal legislation known as VAWA, Violence Against Women Act, protects battered immigrants, either spouse, parents, or children, whose close family member abuses them. The abuser who is either a U.S citizen or a green card holder (lawful permanent resident) may refrain from helping the victim to proceed with the immigration process by using intimidation and control. VAWA allows victims to petition (known as self-petition) for themselves independently and safely without the knowledge, participation, or consent of their abuser.
It's advantageous to hire a professional VAWA attorney to help you file forms and gather evidence for your case. Many times, filing tedious paperwork takes much effort, and victims may become overwhelmed and overlook important documents that can delay or dismiss their case. Visit our website for more information and hire a VAWA attorney
Note: If you are a victim, take precautions and protect yourself by using private browsing (Visit RAINN) in case your abuser has access to your browsing history. Also, any electronic device including laptops, computers, smartphones, and tablets has the ability to be tracked and monitored. Use safety measures or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY) or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.
This article will explain how to apply for VAWA as a self-petitioner.
How to Fill out Form I-360 VAWA Self Petition
Before you begin filing for VAWA, ensure that you are eligible. To apply as a self-petitioner, you will need to complete two steps. This section will discuss the first part only.
Step 1: File and complete Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special
Step 2: Gather evidence and documents noted on the application
The application notes that as a VAWA petitioner, you are not required to fill out the entire form. There are sections that you may skip. Read the instructions carefully.
Part 1. Is the biographical section which includes your:
- Full name (ensure it’s the same as your identification)
- Alien Registration Number, tax ID, or social security (if you have
- (You can skip part 6) mailing address. (If you do not feel safe providing a home address you can skip to item 7. You can provide an address of a friend, your attorney, a community-based organization, or any other address where you can safely and receive mail).
Part 2: Classification Requested
Select the appropriate option that matches your description. This will usually be either letter(s):
I. Self-Petitioning Spouse of Abusive U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident;
J. Self-Petitioning Child of Abusive U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident; or
K. VAWA Self-Petitioning Parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter.
Part 3: Information about the Person for whom the petition is being filed
If you have selected a different address than your own, you will need to complete sections 1-15.
Part 4: This part is only applicable if the person listed in part 3 is outside the United States. Read carefully if this applies to you.
Part 5: Information about spouse or children. If you are filing this application yourself or someone else is doing it for you, you will need to complete this section. In addition, if you plan to file for your child, you will need to list their names in this section.
You can skip the following parts listed below:
Part 6. Complete Only If Filing for an Amerasian
Part 7. Complete Only If Filing as a Widow/Widower
Part 8. Complete Only If Filing for a Special Immigrant Juvenile Court Dependent
Part 9. Complete Only If Filing a Special Immigrant Religious Worker Petition.
Part 10: (If) Filing as a VAWA Self-Petitioning Spouse or Child of a U.S. Citizen or
Lawful Permanent Resident or a VAWA Self-Petitioning Parent of a U.S. Citizen
Son or Daughter.
If any of these are applicable to you, complete this section.
Petitioner's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature (Individual)
If you are applying for yourself, you are required to complete this part and make sure
to include your signature and the date of application.
Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Petitioner or Authorized Signatory
You should only complete this section if someone else has helped you file this
Part 13: If you have had an interpreter, fill out the sections including their name and contact information.
Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Petition, if Other Than the Petitioner
If you have had someone else prepare this application, they will need to include their
For any additional information or family members, you can include them in part 15 of the
Before you begin your application keep these helpful tips in mind.
- Download and use the current and up-to-date form on the USCIS
- Sign your name otherwise, they will reject your application
- Use black ink and ensure it’s legible and clear
- Complete the entire form
There is no filing fee for self-petitioners (spouses, parents, or children) filing I-Form 360.
What Evidence to Include with Form I-360 VAWA Self-Petition
Form I-360 requires that you submit evidentiary documents along with your application. This is step 2 as noted in the section above.
You do not need to include every single document noted in each category, but it is recommended that you include a cover letter noting each document and section to USCIS.
You will need proof and copies of:
- Identification such as a passport, birth certificate, etc.
- Evidence of the relationship between you and your abuser whether you are the spouse, child, or parent. This can be marriage certificates, divorce decrees, or an affidavit of people who knew of the relationship.
- If you are married to the abuser, you will need to prove the marriage was done bona fide (done in good faith) and not for other fraudulent reasons.
- Prove your abuser is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, LPR (a green card holder).
- A written statement describing the abuse. You will need to be detailed and include the type of abuse you experience. These can be but are not limited to: extreme cruelty, physical battery, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual violence, economic abuse, violent threats, isolation and degradation, intimidation, etc. You may include pictures, notes, letters, or other forms of proof.
- Evidence that you live (or lived) with your abuser in the U.S.
- Prove that you are a person of “good moral character” in which you will be required to have a full background check. You will need to explain if you have any arrests, convictions, or violations related to the abuse. In addition, you can also submit an affidavit to prove your character.
Not submitting to each category can be detrimental to your case. Ensure that you have readable and current copies (if applicable) with your application. If you are unsure, contact your VAWA immigration attorney.
Submitting Form I-360 to USCIS
You can submit your VAWA application Form I-360 to the Vermont Service Center located at 38 River Rd, Essex Junction, VT 05452 or you can call them at (800) 375-5283 for further questions. Visit the USCIS webpage to learn about Direct Filing Addresses on the USCIS website.
VAWA Processing Time
Although the processing time is not always accurate because of backlogs and other reasons, the application processing time can take anywhere from 16-21 months but can be more.
When USCIS receives your application, it goes through an evidentiary process “at first look” known as a Prima Facie Case (NPFC). Next, USCIS will send you an NPFC notice in which you (and your derivatives beneficiaries if applicable) will be eligible for specific public benefits. This does not mean that your application has been approved yet, you will need to wait until you receive the approval notice for your application.
After VAWA Approval
After your I-Form 360 has been approved, you can begin applying for the VAWA green card (lawful permanent residence). To learn more about VAWA green card visit the USCIS webpage.
The approval of form I-360 does not provide immigration status, instead, it provides an avenue for you to apply for a green card once you have been approved for VAWA. This is another step you will need to take by filling out Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and provide further evidence.
Contact our office to schedule a consultation and help you through the VAWA application and green card process.
Apply For VAWA Self Petition FAQs
Can I File for VAWA on my Own?
Yes, but before you begin, you need to make sure that you qualify. If you are eligible you will need to file a self-petition Form I-360 to USCIS and include the required documents. If USCIS approves your VAWA application, you can begin applying for an adjustment of status using USCIS Form I-485 which also requires evidentiary documents.
How Much Does the VAWA Application Cost?
There is no fee for filing a VAWA petition. However, if you hire a VAWA immigration lawyer, most likely there will be attorney fees.
What Evidence Do I Need for VAWA Self-Petitioners Form I-360?
You will need:
- Your identification and current immigration status
- Evidence of the abuser's status
- Proof of the relationship. If you are married, you will need proof of bona fide marriage (done in good faith)
- Proof you live (or lived) with the abuser in the U.S.
- Proof of good moral character
- A declaration or written statement of abuse or extreme cruelty.