Case Study: Navigating the I-360 VAWA Self-Petition Process for Battered Spouses

Abuse, particularly within a family structure, can create a cycle of dependency and fear. For non-U.S. citizens married to abusive U.S. citizens or permanent residents, the fear of losing immigration status often compounds their predicament. In this case study, we explore how the I-360 VAWA self-petition provided a pathway to safety and independence for a client, whom we’ll refer to as “Jane.” This is intended to guide potential clients through similar circumstances.

The Case: A Journey from Abuse to Protection

Jane, married to a U.S. citizen we’ll call “John,” experienced repeated incidents of domestic abuse. This escalated to a point where the police had to intervene, and a protective order was sought and granted, barring John from continuing his abusive behavior. Jane was also granted custody of their child.

After the assault, John was charged and tried. However, he tried to manipulate Jane into dropping charges by denying her access to their child. Despite these challenges, Jane’s circumstances made her eligible for an I-360 petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Jane also sought professional counseling to help deal with the trauma.

The I-360 VAWA Self-Petition: A Tool for Empowerment

The I-360 VAWA self-petition allows non-citizen spouses, children, and parents of abusive U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to seek immigrant classification independently. To qualify, the applicant must demonstrate a qualifying relationship with the abuser, prove they were subjected to battery or extreme cruelty, show they resided with the abuser, and display good moral character. Additionally, they must prove the marriage was entered in good faith, not for evading immigration laws.

In Jane’s case, her good moral character, the fact she married John out of love and commitment, and her history of suffering abuse at John’s hands, met the requirements for filing an I-360 VAWA self-petition.

The Pathway to Independence

With our firm’s help, Jane successfully filed her I-360 VAWA self-petition. Upon approval, Jane and her child, as a derivative beneficiary, were granted the immigrant classification. They were then able to apply for lawful permanent residence, i.e., a Green Card.

The Takeaway

Jane’s experience underlines the significance of the I-360 VAWA self-petition as a valuable tool for non-citizen victims of domestic abuse. It provides a mechanism to break free from the cycle of abuse and pursue a life of safety and independence in the United States.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and believe you might qualify for an I-360 petition, our team is ready to offer a confidential consultation and help you navigate this complex process.

Sample Approval

I-360 was filed on July 6, 2021 and approved on May 31, 2023. The total processing time was about 23 months.