In our last post, we discussed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and how it could help immigrants lawfully immigrate to the United States, if they experienced domestic abuse at the hands of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
In that blog post, we discussed who could apply and how to qualify. In this post, we will focus on the next steps, once a potential petitioner wants to move forward.
The VAWA self-petition is started by filling out and filing Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant). Form I-360 is free to file, but it must be filed with evidence that you meet the VAWA eligibility requirements.
If there will be derivative beneficiaries (your children under 21 or children abuse victims), you must also include VAWA eligibility evidence, including proof of your relationship to your children.
Please note that Form I-360 does not grant you or your beneficiaries immigration status, even if it is approved. The approved form gives you and your beneficiaries immigrant classification, which allows you to apply for lawful permanent residence and get your Green Card.
If you have received a positive initial review of your Form I-360, where you established a prima facie case and received the Notice of Prima Facie Case, or if you have an approved Form I-360, you and your beneficiaries now have “qualified alien” status.
This means that you are eligible for most federal and state public assistance.
If you were not abused yourself, but you are self-petitioning as the parent of an abused minor, you do not get the qualified alien status and are not entitled to most federal and state public assistance. Your child may qualify for some assistance.
Once you have an approved Form I-360, you and your child beneficiary can legally work in Florida. You need to mark the appropriate box (employment authorization) on the form to ensure that USCIS automatically authorizes your employment. If you do not appropriately mark the form, then you must file a separate Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
In addition, if it was not marked, your child beneficiary must also file this form as well. Once approved, you and your beneficiary can legally work in the United States.
Getting your Green Card
Once approved, you and your beneficiary can apply for your Green Cards. For those in the United States, this is done through Form I-485. You may find a Florida
attorney can help.