Fairfax VAWA Application Process

This is an option for individuals who have been abused by their spouse to find legal status in the United States, through the Violence Against Women Act application. The process of the application can be extensive, and anyone who is looking to gain legal status through VAWA should consult with a Fairfax VAWA immigration lawyer who can help to guide them.

Steps to Take

The first step in the process of a Fairfax VAWA application usually is to speak with an immigration lawyer and make sure to meet all the criteria. The first thing that most lawyers will tell a person to do is to try to gather documentary evidence, especially if they are still living with the abuser.

One of those especially important things that a person will be getting is proof of the abuser’s lawful status. Sometimes, people do not have access to that if they are not living with their abuser any longer. But in order to qualify, they have to prove that their abuser is a lawful, permanent resident or a citizen. So, they need their social security number or green card or naturalization certificate, or birth certificate, for example. They need some sort of document to prove that status.  If they are thinking about fleeing the abusive relationship, that is something that they want to think about prior to taking steps like that.

Evidence

The evidence a person to gather for their Fairfax VAWA application is going to be proof that the green card holder is the spouse, proof of the bona fide marriage, and proof of cohabitation, so that even if they are married, they would have to prove that they lived together. Most importantly is proof of the abuse.

A person may have police reports, medical evidence, or a letter from the therapist or, in some cases where the person has not reported the abuse, then it might just be letters from friends or people in the person’s family who knew about the situation.

The most important piece of evidence is the victim’s personal statement which will detail basically all the elements that are required, i.e., the bona fide relationship, how they met, the trajectory of the relationship and the harm that the victim suffered as the result of it.

Background Checks

A background check is a necessary component to the Fairfax VAWA application process and a person has to get certified background checks from every location that they lived for more than six months.

The reason for the background check is that the victims have to also prove that they are admissible to the program. If the victim has a serious criminal record of their own that makes them inadmissible, then they may not qualify for VAWA although there are some exceptions and some waivers that are available exclusively to VAWA applicants. It does not totally disqualify a person but they will have to show that they are not criminally inadmissible.

Filing the Application

Once these steps are completed, the person will file their Fairfax VAWA application with USCIS and will wait for it to be adjudicated. They are very slow to adjudicate them. They can take up to and even exceeding a year to make a decision.

The first step the state will make after is to issue something called a prima facie approval that comes back fairly quickly. They will issue it in just a couple of weeks. That is a basic requirement, but even assuming everything said in a person’s documentation is true, it does not mean they are actually going to end up receiving status.

With that document, however, a person can apply for many state benefits that are available to the victims of the abuser. They can be used for public assistance with it. If the applicant is married to a citizen, then at that point, they will be able to get their work authorization while the application is pending.

Forms

The forms to be completed depend, again, on whether the applicant is married to a citizen or a resident. But generally, if the person is just married to a resident and they are only filing for the VAWA status, then they will just be filing under Form I-360. If they are married to a citizen and they are eligible for adjustment, then they will also file the other adjustment status applications and a work permit along with it. As soon as the application is completed, theywilll also be scheduled for fingerprinting with USCIS in a local service center.