If you apply for lawful permanent residence under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you will have to follow slightly different procedures than others when preparing your application to adjust status.
If you married a U.S. citizen or LPR (lawful permanent resident) who was, later on, abusive to you, you could complete your application for a U.S. green card without relying on the abuser.
Firstly, you have to fill out Form I-360 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After you receive USCIS approval, you can proceed to step two- applying for a green card or “adjusting your status.”
If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, you can file I-360 and your application for a green card at once to USCIS because you are deemed an “immediate relative.” However, USCIS will first review your I-360, and after that, your adjustment status.
If you decide to do those steps separately, you will ensure that USCIS approves your basic eligibility under VAWA first.
If your spouse is not a U.S. citizen, but a U.S. lawful permanent resident, you will have to submit Form I-360 and wait for its approval and until a visa becomes available to you (until your “priority date” becomes current). This can take more than two years before you can proceed with your green card (adjustment of status) application.
Although if USCIS approves your I-360, you still don’t have the legal right to remain in the United States. But there is a policy of granting “deferred action” status to VAWA applicants, so you will not be deported while you wait for your adjustment application.