The VAWA Green Card
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:
- A U.S. citizen spouse or former spouse,
- A U.S. citizen parent,
- A U.S. citizen son or daughter,
- A lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or former spouse,
- An LPR parent.
To qualify for an VAWA Green Card, an applicant 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.
How to Apply for an VAWA Green Card
If you are currently in the United States and you meet certain other requirements (such as an immigrant visa is immediately available to you), you may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to apply for a Green Card without leaving the country.
You must have an approved Form I-360 in order to qualify for a Green Card. If a visa is immediately available to you, you do not have to wait until your Form I-360 is approved to file Form I-485.
If you are a VAWA self-petitioner seeking to adjust status as an immediate relative, you may file Form I-485 at any time because visas are always immediately available for immediate relatives. If you are a VAWA self-petitioner seeking to adjust under a family-based preference category, you may need to wait for a visa to become available.
If a visa is immediately available, you may file your Form I-485:
- Together (“concurrently”) with your Form I-360;
- While your Form I-360 is pending; or
- After your Form I-360 is approved (and remains valid).
An VAWA Green Card comes with certain benefits, including:
- You can work legally in the United States,
- You can freely travel in the United States,
- Your unmarried children under 21 years of age can also qualify for an Green Card. While in the United States, your children can go to school and your spouse can apply for an EAD, employment authorization document, giving them permission to work legally in the United States.