[pdf] Chapter 3.3 Preparing the VAWA Self-Petition and Applying for Residence (August 16, 2023) (+)

Guide to preparing and filing Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self-Petitions on behalf of battered immigrant spouse, children, step-children, former spouses, and parents of citizens and lawful permanent residents. Includes applications for lawful permanent residency for approved VAWA self-petitioners and their children.

[pdf] Chapter 07: Preparing the VAWA Self-Petition and Applying for Lawful Residence (August 15, 2023) (+)

Chapter 7 in Empowering Survivors: Legal Rights of Immigrant Victims of Sexual Assault. This chapter provides practical tips for filing a self-petition and apply for lawful permanent residency under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) as revised in 2005.

[pdf] Hawke v. Department of Homeland Security, the United States District Court for the District of Northern California (May 23 2008) (+)

Hawke v. Department of Homeland Security, the United States District Court for the District of Northern California (September 29, 2008). Filed an amicus brief discussing the history and purpose of VAWA Confidentiality created in 1996 (expanded in 2000 and 2005) as Section 384 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (“IIRIRA”). In this case of first impression, the Court clarified that VAWA confidentiality provisions protect victims filing for VAWA immigration relief even if the case is ultimately denied when such denials were not based on the merits. Procedural denials or withdrawals of applications continue to receive the full scope of VAWA Confidentiality eligible protection. (Morgan, Lewis, Pro Bono)

[pdf] USCIS Form i-485(December 23, 2022) (+)

Form I-485 application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency instructions. Includes details about applying for lawful permanent residency as a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioner, VAWA Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (VAWA HRIFA), and VAWA Cuban Adjustment Act (VAWA CAA) applicants.

[pdf] USCIS Form i-485 Instructions (December 23, 2022) (+)

Form I-485 application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency instructions. Includes details about applying for lawful permanent residency as a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioner, VAWA Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (VAWA HRIFA), and VAWA Cuban Adjustment Act (VAWA CAA) applicants.

[pdf] Improving 8 U.S.C. 1367 VAWA Compliance and Avoiding Harm to Abused Spouses and Children in I-130 Family Based Visa Petition Cases and I-485 Family Based Adjustments (November 28, 2022) (+)

This memo proposes steps USCIS can take to fill gaps in VAWA confidentiality implementation in the context of Family based visa petition adjudications (I-130) and adjudication of lawful permanent resident applications (I-485) filed on behalf of noncitizen spouses. The goal is to ensure that USCIS adjudicators do not rely upon information provided by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse who is a perpetrator of domestic violence, battering or extreme cruelty to deny a noncitizen spouse’s application, particularly on the grounds of marriage fraud when the “evidence” of marriage fraud comes from the perpetrator. This type of outcome is exactly what Congress sought to avoid with VAWA confidentiality protections.

[pdf] USCIS Naturalization for Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJS) (September 21, 2022) (+)

Fact Sheet developed by USCIS describing the benefits and process for immigrant children who were victims of abuse, abandonment, neglect or similar harm perpetrated by at least one of the child’s parents who were granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status by USCIS and gained lawful permanent residency through the SIJS program.

[pdf] USCIS Naturalization for Lawful Permanent Residents Who Had T or U Nonimmigrant Status (September 21, 2022) (+)

Fact Sheet developed by USCIS describing the benefits and process for immigrant victims of trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other criminal activities who were granted T or U visas and obtained lawful permanent residency through the T visa or U visa programs.

[pdf] USCIS Naturalization for VAWA Lawful Permanent Residents (September 21, 2022) (+)

Fact Sheet developed by USCIS describing the benefits and process for abused immigrant spouses, children and parents who obtained lawful permanent residency through forms of Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) immigration relief.

[pdf] Pages 79-81 and 92 FOIA BSW Response 2017 384 VAWA Confidentiality Broadcast (February 9, 2016 & April 4, 2016) (+)

Notice to field offices reminding them about the VAWA confidentiality “384” computer system that notifies DHS officials about a victim’s cases receiving VAWA confidentiality protections. These memos also discuss interviewing battered spouse waiver applicants including interview approach and the importance of using only the “safe address” and taking care not to send information to the abuser.

[pdf] FOIA USCIS Response to NIWAP’s FOIA on Battered Spouse Waiver Cases and Case Processing (August 25, 2017) (+)

This FOIA response discusses the application of VAWA confidentiality protections to battered spouse waiver and all VAWA cases; provides slides used to train on VAWA confidentiality and the rules that apply to district office staff adjudicating battered spouse waivers and VAWA adjustments of status applications for lawful permanent residency. These slides highlight the types of evidence that adjudicators cannot rely upon that come from the abuser under VAWA confidentiality law. It also discusses how many of the cases returned to the VAWA unit from district offices stems from reliance on regulations that were later overruled by subsequent VAWA statutes and have not been updated and highlight common returns that are errors. The training includes a copy of the 4.11.08 memo on adjustment of status for VAWA self-petitioners who are present without inspection. There are also documents discussing VAWA’s amendments designed to allow VAWA self-petitioners to remarry and the USCIS position on narrow implementation of the remarriage provisions. The materials provided in response to the FOIA provide detailed information in the form of emails, policies, and trainings warning adjudicators to not rely on perpetrator provided information in adjudicating VAWA self-petitions, adjustments or battered spouse waiver cases with good examples of the types of evidence that must be avoided, including not relying on perpetrator provided information in marriage based visa interviews. The policy discussing referrals from District offices for revocations for self-petitions is discussed. The response also included the memo on the 2 year custody and 2 year residency and custody exceptions for abused adopted children. Pages 1-57 of this FIOA response contain information applies primarily to VAWA self-petition or cases of abused adopted children.

Page 58 (Electronic page 72) of the response appears to be a check list of the types of evidence that may be fraud indicators or raise questions or lead to a request for further evidence (RFE) this appears to be self-petition related and it is not clear the extent to which it relates to battered spouse waiver cases.

Pages 59-61 and pp 88-91 directly related to battered spouse adjudications and provide direction on how District Office adjudicators are to respond when at an interview for a jointly filed request to remove conditions a battered spouse/child request to file a battered spouse waiver. These communications recognize the VAWA confidentiality implications in processing these requests. Pages 70-73 provide the formal interim process from changing from a joint petition to a battered spouse waiver.

Pages 62 -67, also provided on pages 82-87. Directly discuss battered spouse waiver adjudications with VAWA Unit staff providing examples the types of questions VAWA unit trained staff use in requests for further evidence (RFE) on the following topic proof of: extreme cruelty; battering (physical abuse); good faith marriage, residence with abusive spouse/parent. There is also included RFE language describing that marital tensions are not necessarily abuse. The materials also describe the three main reasons why battered spouse waiver adjudicators send cases to an interview at a field office. Any credible evidence rules are described and an explanation of Battering or Extreme Cruelty from Chapter 25 of the Adjudicators Field Manual is included. Page 92 also addresses similar issues.

Pages 76-78 set out the standard operating procedures (S)OP) used by District offices processing VAWA cases addressing both battered spouse waiver cases and VAWA self-petitions adjustments of status to lawful permanent residency. The SOP discusses interviews, the timing of interviews and the involvement of supervisors. It also discusses having a VAWA Point of Contact at the field office and their role. This SOP recognizes that some VAWA cases will be identified during an interview and any such cases are to be referred to the VAWA POC in the field office. This policy took effect August 1, 2011.

Pages 79-81 discuss the creation of the “384” code of admission notifying DHS staff that a case has VAWA confidentiality protection. It is interesting to note that no mention of battered spouse waivers are a case type is included in these communications despite VAWA 2005 defining battered spouse waivers as VAWA self-petitioners.

[pdf] USCIS-Announces-New-Filing-Location-09.21-Update (+)

Starting June 29, 2020 USCIS is changing filing locations for U visa forms and Adjustment of Status Forms for U visa holders. The term that USCIS uses for lawful permanent residency is “adjustment of status”. USCIS will allow for a 30-day grace period for petitioners to file their U visa and Adjustment of Status forms, and all related forms, at the incorrect service center. The grace period will run through July 30. After that date, USCIS may reject any Form I-918, Form I-918A, Form I-918B, Form I-485, and all related forms sent to the incorrect service center. Visit https://niwaplibrary.wcl.american.edu/pubs/map-of-dhs-new-uscis-filing-locations for the corresponding color-coded map.

[Sep. 21, 2020 Update] Please note: Petitioners can file with I-765 Work Authorization and I-192 Advanced Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant applications with their U visa form concurrently. When filing concurrently, petitioners living in green states must file at the USCIS Nebraska Service Center and petitioners living in blue states must file at USCIS Vermont Service Center.

[pdf] Map of New USCIS Filing Locations for U Visa and Lawful Permanent Residency Forms (July 24, 2020) (+)

USCIS announced new filing locations for Form I-918 and Form I-485 for applicants filing based on U Nonimmigrant Status. This color-coded map shows which states must file at either the USCIS Nebraska or Vermont Service Centers. This information is current as of its publication date, July 24, 2020. For the most up-to-date information on the U visa form, filing instructions, and where to file, visit https://www.uscis.gov/i-918 .

[pdf] Annoucement from USCIS: Issues Guidance for Approved Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self Petitioners Ability to Adjust Status (+)

Announcement from USCIS regarding the guidance issued on April 11, 2008, this announcement applies to an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) application for an approved VAWA self-petitioner who entered the United States without having been inspected and admitted or paroled.

[pdf] VAWA “Red Flags” (July 16, 2015) (+)

This “Red Flags” list was developed to help advocates and attorneys who are not immigration experts screen the immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking they are working with to identify potential issues in the client crime victim’s case that would require assistance from an immigration attorney with particular expertise in working on cases of immigrant crime victims. When the factors contained on this list are not present in your client’s case, an advocate or attorney who is not an immigration expert can and should assist immigrant victims in filing for VAWA, T and U visa cases.

[pdf] Revised Guidance for the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) (July 2004) (+)

This guidance significantly modifies a prior interpretation of certain provisions of the CSPA. In particular, it changes how the agency interprets the statute to apply to aliens who aged out prior to the enactment date of the CSPA. It also permits those individuals who were ineligible under the prior policy to file a new application for permanent residence.

[pdf] DOJ Memorandum on the Implementation of Crime Bill Self-Petitioning for Abused or Battered Spouses or Children of U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (April 16, 1996) (+)

DOJ Memorandum on the Implementation of Crime Bill Self-Petitioning for Abused or Battered Spouses or Children of U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (April 16, 1996). This memo details the basic eligibility requirements for VAWA self-petitioning, adjustment of status, employment authorization, evidence in general, extreme hardship and battery and extreme cruelty. HQ 204-P

[pdf] USCIS Memorandum: Clarification of Classes of Applicants Eligible for Naturalization under Section 319(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (January 27, 2005) (+)

USCIS Memorandum modifying a previous policy memorandum entitled, “Instructions Regarding the Expanded Meaning of Section 319(a)” to clarify that individuals who obtained lawful permanent residence by reason of an approved waiver of the joint filing requirement under section 216(c)(4)(C) of the INA are also eligible to apply for naturalization.

[pdf] William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008: Changes to T and U Nonimmigrant Status and Adjustment of Status Provisions (+)

USCIS Policy Memorandum to inform immigration services officers who adjudicate petitions for T and U non-immigrant status and related applications for adjustment of status about new legislation affecting the T and U non-immigrant programs.

[pdf] T Visa and U Visa Adjustment to Lawful Permanent Residency Regulations (December 12, 2008) (+)

The Department of Homeland Security is amending its regulations to permit aliens in lawful T or U nonimmigrant status to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. This rule provides that family members of a principal T or U nonimmigrant granted or seeking adjustment of status may also apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. This rule also
provides for adjustment of status or approval of an immigrant petition for certain family members of U applicants who were never admitted to the United States in U nonimmigrant status.

[pdf] Fact Sheet on USCIS’ New Rule for Non-Immigrant Victims of Human Trafficking and Specified Criminal Activity (+)

Congress created the “T” and “U” nonimmigrant classifications with passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of persons and other crimes while, at the same time, offering protection to victims of such crimes. The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve immigrant crime victims.

[pdf] Good Moral Character: Assessment Tool (October 15, 2013) (+)

This article is a Good Moral Character assessment tool. Federal immigration law provides that an immigrant must be of good moral character to be eligible for several forms of immigration relief including: VAWA self-petitioning, VAWA cancellation of removal, naturalization and cancellation of removal. This tool lists factors that if present in a case impede the immigrant’s ability to demonstrate good moral character.

[pdf] U-Visa Victims and Lawful Permanent Residency (2012) (+)

This survey examined the extent to which U visa recipients were eligible for and pursued lawful permanent residency and found that U visa victims were providing cooperation with law enforcement at high rates and were also able to demonstrate the humanitarian need, public interest or family unity required to receive U visa based lawful permanent residency status.

[pdf] Stories from the Field (+)

This collection of stories was developed to illustrate the harms to immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault that would occur if proposed changes in the immigration protections offered under VAWA and U visa immigration relief were rolled back. Provisions in the House VAWA Reauthorization of 2012 proposed to make significant changes to the U visa program that would cut off U visa access for many victims, would end U visa lawful permanent residency protections, and would impose case processing changes that would endanger victim safety. This storybook contributed to President Obama issuing a veto threat of legal protections currently available in law were rolled back in VAWA 2013 for any victims. The stories illustrate how victims will be harmed if access to lawful permanent residency for u visa victims is denied; why U visa holders need lawful permanent residency, U visa case benefits for victim safety and law enforcement even when no criminal case is opened or pursued; and Perpetrator Interference With Victim Access to VAWA Immigration Relief.

[pdf] Somewhere to Turn (+)

A comprehensive manual covering topics such as: domestic violence and battered immigrant issues, cultural competency training, cross-cultural interviewing, recruiting and hiring multilingual and multicultural staff, shelter protocols, outreach and community collaboration, shelter access for battered immigrant women, VAWA immigration cases and victim advocacy confidentiality, creative use of protection orders, protections orders enforcement and criminal prosecution, access to public benefits, verification and reporting requirements under the U.S. Attorney General’s guidance and order, and model programs.

[pdf] New Dangers for Battered Immigrants: The Untold Effects When Immigrant Victims Have to Leave the U.S. to Obtain Lawful Permanent Residency as VAWA Self-Petitioners (+)

The stories recounted in this volume document the experiences of battered immigrants from around the country. In all of these cases, battered immigrants either filed or are in the process of filing self-petitions. Once the battered immigrant’s self-petition is approved the victim may apply for lawful permanent residency. The purpose of this compilation has been to highlight the potential hardships and dangers that battered immigrants face if they would be required to leave the United States and travel abroad to receive lawful permanent residency based upon their approved VAWA self-petition. Historically, battered immigrants abused by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses or parents have been generally able to attain lawful permanent residency while continuing to reside in the United States. The stories collected here were used to secure amendments in VAWA 2000 that together with DHS policies allow immigrant victims to obtain lawful permanent residency without being required to leave the United States.

[pdf] T and U-visa Holders Need Legal Permanent Residency: Real Life Stories (+)

A collection of real life stories that illustrate the hardships U visa and T visa holders face without access to lawful permanent residency included in the U visa and T visa statues. This collection was submitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Budget and Management as part of advocacy to secure issuance and influence the protections that would be included in the T and U visa lawful permanent residency (adjustment of status) regulations.

[pdf] Offering a Helping Hand: Legal Protections for Battered Immigrant Women: A History of Legislative Responses (March 1, 2002) (+)

This article chronicles the legislative history of immigration protections afforded immigrant crime victims in the Violence Against Women Acts (VAWA) of 1994 and 2000, through the Battered Spouse Waiver, and through VAWA Confidentiality, the history and development of the VAWA self-petition, VAWA cancellation of removal, the battered spouse waiver, any credible evidence standard, VAWA confidentiality, benefits access for battered immigrant VAWA self-petitioners and cancellation/suspension applicants, the U-Visa, victim’s ability to obtain lawful permanent residency in the U.S. and Legal Services Corporation funded legal assistance are discussed in detail. This article collects and publishes information contained in documents developed during advocacy that led to the passage of federal immigration law legislation creating each of these protections.