Background Checks for VAWA Applications

A background check is necessary for all VAWA applicants. One of the threshold requirements to qualify for VAWA is being a person of good moral character. To prove that, you or your Virginia VAWA immigration lawyer can submit different types of evidence, but one required piece of evidence is a fingerprint background check, which has to be completed in every jurisdiction that you have lived in for more than six months during the past three years.

Background Check Process

The background check process will depend on where you are located since there is no national uniform standard for background checks. Sometimes, there are third party entities that are authorized by the state or locality to take your fingerprints and then send it to one common state database to have the background check completed. In some smaller jurisdictions, the background check can be completed at the police station. Your local police department can provide you with specific information on their procedures.

Individuals need to contact their local law enforcement agency to see what the agency’s specific process is and to learn what forms need to be completed in order for that jurisdiction to complete the background check.

Next Steps

Once the background check is completed and you have thoroughly collected the body of evidence that you are going to submit to support your claim, you compile it. Generally, your immigration lawyer will draft a comprehensive cover letter that explains the timeline of the abuse and our legal arguments on why this abuse qualifies under the VAWA provisions.

We then make an exhibit list explaining each piece of evidence and why it is being submitted, and ensure that all of the forms are completed and signed. We send the complete package to the VAWA Service Center to wait for adjudication.

Submitting Fingerprints

Applicants will have to undergo an additional fingerprinting requirement that is completed by USCIS at the ACS Service Center. Individuals will typically receive a fingerprint notice that indicates the location where they will have to go to take their biometrics and fingerprints generally two to three weeks after the initial submission of the application.

Each person applying for any type of immigration benefit in the United States is subjected to a fingerprint requirement to get their biometrics on file. For VAWA, you are fingerprinted to undergo a background check to ensure that you do not have criminal convictions that would bar you from being eligible for VAWA benefits.

Other VAWA Application Requirements

In many cases, you will receive a request for evidence in VAWA applications. The requested information depends on what type of case you have. In some cases, proving the abuse is the most difficult part because there is often no hard evidence that you were abused.

In other cases, the more difficult part can be proving that you were in a bonafide marriage. While people might have a marriage certificate, they may not have information proving that they resided with the abuser, which is another threshold requirement. That may be the case when the applicant did not have any documents in their name or were not listed on utility bills or joint banking accounts.

Another challenge can be proving the citizenship or residency status of the abuser. If you do not have the abuser’s social security number, a copy of their social security card, birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or passport, then you have to submit a document that provides all the biographical information that you have about the abuser. USCIS can use that information to confirm that the individual does have status that would allow you to qualify for VAWA, if there is sufficient information to locate the person.

At the point of adjudication, staff with VAWA will send you either an approval notice or a request for evidence. If you receive a request for evidence, there is insufficient evidence to support your case so you are advised what type of evidentiary information you need to supplement your application.