Violence Against Women Act or VAWA helps and protects victims of violence besides women, it also serves for protection of some other categories of victims as battered and abused parents, men, and children.
There are many other benefits for VAWA petitioners, but in this article, we will focus on the path that leads those applicants to the employment authorization.
To receive a work permit in the United States, a person usually has to file the form I-765. A VAWA applicant who is filing I-360 form and can file I-485 form (known as adjustment of status) at the same time, would also submit a separate I-765. In this way, the applicant would request a c(9) work eligibility group, or eligibility based on pending adjustment of status application.
Anyway, this is just one of many other options that a VAWA applicant might have. There is some situation when a VAWA applicant cannot file I-485 along with the I-360 form. For example, this would be a case when an abuser was a permanent resident (not a U.S. citizen), and a priority date has to become current before a person can file an I-485 form. Or, if a VAWA applicant can submit the I-360 form, but he or she is not eligible for an adjustment of status, the applicant will not be able to file forms I-485 and I-360 concurrently. In these events, a VAWA applicant may receive a work permit under two different eligibility categories.
Nowadays, the Form I-360 has a question number 12 asking the applicant to state if he or she currently is residing in the United States and if he or she wants to be granted an Employment Authorization Document. So, what if an applicant wants to receive a work authorization event to the approval of the I-360 form? If you decide that you want to be granted the employment authorization, you have to check the box “yes,” of course. After that, you will receive an employment authorization right after the approval of the I-360 form automatically. This also means that you don’t have to fill in the entire I-765 form, more precisely, the part under c(31) eligibility category. But, bear in mind that sometimes, it may take longer than a year to receive an approval of the I -360 form. So, until then, you will not be able to work legally in the United States.
There is one more option for getting the work authorization for VAWA petitioners. It is c(14) eligibility category- deferred action. Bear in mind that this category will require you to prove an economic necessity.
Now, applicants may file this form I-765 along with the I-360. But, also, the rule that approval for the work authorization will come only after the USCIS approved I-360, and not while it is pending applies here, as well. So, USCIS will firstly review your I-360, and after the approval, it will deal with your I-765 application.
To sum up, if you apply the VAWA self-petition, you may receive employment authorizations based on three different categories: c(9), c(31), and c(14). The best solution among those can be qualifying for the c(9) category. To remind you, this category will allow you to receive a work authorization while you wait for the I-360 and I-485 to be approved. In the meantime, while waiting for the approval on your way to your green card, you will be free to legally work in the United States.