Background Checks in an Alexandria VAWA Application

Background checks in Alexandria VAWA applications are necessary to prove good moral character, an essential element of a VAWA petition. Good moral character is evidence of positive contributions to society and generally means not having a criminal record. It is a mandatory requirement that the petitioner submits evidence of good moral character. One could prove good moral character by submitting police clearances, state criminal background checks, and statements from third parties to supplement the clearances describing the person as someone with good moral character. An extensive criminal history will preclude someone from having good moral character and will keep them from obtaining benefits under VAWA. An applicant will be found ineligible for benefits under VAWA if they lack good moral character.

There is a standard process to obtain the necessary documentation. Completing a background check is mandatory because demonstrating good moral character is a requirement for benefits under VAWA. A person should consult an experienced immigration attorney if they are filling out forms for VAWA.

Process of a Background Check

The applicant must determine where they lived for at least six months during the three-year period immediately preceding the filing of the petition. For each jurisdiction, the applicant must obtain a local police clearance letter or a state criminal record check if the police clearance is not available.

The applicant should go to their local police department and request a clearance letter by providing their name, date of birth, and place of residence. Each police department will have their own procedures for completing a police clearance. If the applicant must complete a state criminal record check because a local police clearance is not available, they will need to provide fingerprints.

Who Completes the Background Checks?

The police clearance is completed by the local police department. The state criminal record check is conducted by the state police. One may use a third-party company to complete the fingerprint card, but a state agency runs the background check.

Once all forms are completed and all the required evidence acquired, the application(s) are submitted to USCIS.

Submitting Fingerprints

To demonstrate good moral character, the VAWA petitioner will have to provide fingerprints to the state police so that the background check may be conducted to demonstrate that the individual has good moral character and does not have a criminal history in that jurisdiction. USCIS will also request biometrics in the future when the VAWA petitioner applies for adjustment and work authorization.

Other Requests for VAWA Applications

At the time of submission of the application, the applicant must demonstrate the qualifying relationship, evidence of cohabitation, evidence of good moral character, and any other evidence that USCIS requests for evidence and a fee. USCIS will spell out exactly what is deficient in the individual’s application and provide a list of what documents will be able to prove qualifying relationship, cohabitation, abuse or extreme cruelty, and good moral character.

In responding to a Request for Evidence or RFE, the applicant should include each kind of evidence requested and send it all at once to the address indicated on the notice by the date specified.

Processing times vary, but currently, USCIS.gov indicates that the Vermont service center is adjudicating I-360s based on VAWA filed on or before August 22, 2016. If no other information is needed, they will make a prima facie determination of the abuse and that prima facie determination makes one eligible for certain benefits. Thereafter, the applicant will receive deferred action, which will allow them to apply for work authorization. An adjudication of the I-360 may take about a year at this point.

Alexandria VAWA Lawyer