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.

What Documents Do I Need for VAWA-Based Adjustment of Status

There is paperwork that you need to deal with. This is a list of required documents for adjusting status:

  • Copy of your I-360 approval notice (unless if you’re filing both application concurrently);
  • Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status;
  • Two photos, passport-style; Write your name and A number in pencil or felt pen on the backside.
  • Marriage certificate copy, translated in English if it’s in another language.
  • Copy of birth certificate, also translated in English if it’s in another language
  • The passport copy and the page containing your nonimmigrant visa, if any.
  • Proof of U.S. lawful entry, I-94 or any other
  • Form I-864W – Waiver of Affidavit of Support;
  • Form I-693- Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record;
  • Form I-131 for Advance Parole
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (optional)
  • Police records showing you do not have a criminal history;
  • Fees to USCIS.

Submitting Your Adjustment of Status Documentation

Once your packet is ready, you will have to mail it to USCIS. You can check the appropriate address on the I-485 page of the USCIS official website. In order not to risk losing your packet, use certified mail, or another delivery service that provides tracking.

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