U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented updated policy guidance for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners.

The new guidance is effective immediately, and it applies to all Forms I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, filed as VAWA self-petitions that are currently pending, or are filed on or after February 10, 2022.

The most notable updates are:

  • An updated interpretation of the shared residence requirement.
    • USCIS no longer requires applicants to currently live with or to have live with the abuser during the qualifying relationship. Now, applicants must demonstrate that they are live with or have lived with the abuser at any time in the past.
    • For children who are applying based on abuse by their parent, they must show they resided with that parents when the abuse occurred.
  • Stepchildren and stepparents may be eligible to file a VAWA self-petition even if the step relationship ends due to divorce or death.
    • A step relationship is created when a child’s biological parent marries a person who is not the child’s other biological parent before the child’s 18th birthday. If that marriage ends due to divorce or the death of the biological parent, the stepchild or stepparent may remain eligible if a relationship has continued to exist.
  • Clarifies how USCIS considers the two-year filing requirement when the applicant’s marriage is terminated, the abusive U.S. citizen family member dies, or the abusive family member loses or renounces U.S. citizenship or permanent resident.
  • Clarifies that INA 204(a)(2) does not apply when a self-petitioner files a Form I-360 based on a qualifying relationship to an abusive permanent resident spouse but does apply if the self-petitioner acquires permanent resident status and subsequently files a family-based spousal petition.
    • INA 204(a)(2) indicates that USCIS may not approve a petition filed by a permanent resident for their spouse if the permanent resident obtained their status through marriage to a U.S. citizen.
    • This is true unless five years have passed since the permanent resident was granted that status or the permanent resident establishes through evidence that the prior marriage was not entered into for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws.
  • Provides that applicants who previously had a Petition for Alien Relative filed for them by the abusive qualifying relative can retain the priority date from the Petition.

Do you have other questions about VAWA self-petitions? You may want to review this summary.

Please note: This is an general information about VAWA and is not meant to be legal advice. For information on your specific situation, we recommend you use our contact form to schedule an appointment with our office. We would be glad to help you determine the best option for you.