The Violence Against Women Act
Policy & Procedures
What is the Process?
Notice of Receipt: You should receive an acknowledgement or Notice of Receipt within a few weeks after mailing the application and fee to BCIS .
Prima Facie Determination: Battered immigrants filing self-petitions who can establish a “prima facie” case are considered “qualified aliens” for the purpose of eligibility for public benefits (Section 501 of the Illegal Immigrant Responsibility and Immigration Reform Act (IIRIRA). The BCIS reviews each petition initially to determine whether the self-petitioner has addressed each of the requirements listed above and has provided some supporting evidence. This may be in the form of a statement that addresses each requirement. This is called a prima facie determination.
If the Service makes a prima facie determination, the self-petitioner will receive a Notice of Prima Facie Determination valid for 150 days. The notice may be presented to state and federal agencies that provide public benefits.
Approved Self-petition: If the I-360 self-petition is approved, the Service may exercise the administrative option of placing the self-petitioner in deferred action, if the self-petitioner does not have legal immigration status in the United States. Deferred action means that the Service will not initiate removal (deportation) proceedings against the self-petitioner. Deferred action decisions are made by the Vermont Service Center (VSC) and are granted in most cases. Deferred action validity is 27 months for those for whom a visa was available on the date that the self-petition was approved. All others have a validity of 24 months beyond the date a visa number becomes available. The VSC has the authority to grant appropriate extensions of deferred action beyond those time periods upon receipt of a request for extension from the self-petitioner.
Adjustment to Permanent Resident Status: Self-petitioners who qualify as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available. They may file the Application To Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) with their local BCIS office. Self-petitioners who require a visa number to adjust must wait for a visa number to be available before filing the for Adjustment of Status.
Victims of domestic violence should know that help is also available to them through the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 [TDD] for information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about self-petitioning for immigration status.
There are numerous immigration laws that could result in the denial of this visa if not properly prepared. If the petition is put together correctly and professionally by a qualified immigration law firm, the chances of approval is greatly increased.