USCIS Guidance Regarding Violence Against Women Act Self-Petitioners

Earlier this month, USCIS issued a guidance notice to its adjudicators regarding Adjustment of Status applications filed by Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners currently in the United States who have not been inspected and admitted or paroled. According to the guidance, Adjustment of Status applications for approved VAWA self-petitioners will not be considered ineligible for adjustment of status just because a self-petitioner entered the U.S. without inspection and admission or parole. Further, the self-petitioner is not required to show that his or her illegal entry into the U.S. had a clear connection to the instance(s) of domestic violence, battery or extreme cruelty.

Based on this guidance, approved VAWA self-petitioners whose denied Adjustment of Status applications were filed on or after January 14, 1998, may file a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider using Form I-290B, if the sole reason for the denial of their request for adjustment was their illegal entry into the U.S.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) enables battered immigrants to petition for legal status in the U.S. without having to seek sponsorship from an abusive U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, parent or child. The VAWA program enables victims of abuse to self-petition to seek legal immigration status in the U.S. These individuals, whose self-petitions are approved are able to file for Adjustment of Status using Form I-485 directly with USCIS to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.

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