Application Process for a VAWA Green Card: The I-360 Petition (2023)

A step-by-step guide to applying for U.S. lawful permanent residence independently, without the help of your abusive U.S. citizen or resident sponsor.

There are two main steps to applying for U.S. lawful permanent residence (a "green card") on one's own, without relying on an abusive U.S. citizen or resident spouse or parent, as allowed under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA):

  • first, file Form I-360 and supporting evidence with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and then after it's approved,
  • file an adjustment of status application requesting a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence), using Form I-485 and supporting documents.

If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you can combine these two steps into one and file the I-360 and the I-485 together, or "concurrently," without waiting for USCIS to approve the I-360 first.

If your U.S. spouse is a lawful permanent resident (a green card holder), then you are not an immediate relative, and your only choice is to file the Form I-360 first, wait for USCIS approval, wait for your Priority Date to become current (which could take no time at all or could take months or years), and then file the I-485 application.

This article will guide you through the first step of the application process and direct you to resources for the next steps.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for VAWA, see Green Card Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Who Is Eligible.

NOTE: When looking for help as a victim of abuse, remember to consider how private your computer, Internet, and phone use are. Consider whether there's anything you can and should do to prevent someone else from learning that you're doing research or seeking help. Some victims, for instance, might use the same computer or device as the abuser, or might have a phone plan that allows the abuser to see the calls they make and receive. Other kinds of technology, like home security cameras and GPS in phones and cars, can also allow for monitoring by the abuser.

(Video) Green Card Self-Petitions - Battered Spouse Petition - Form I-360 I-751 USCIS - VAWA Self Petition

Filling Out Form I-360 for VAWA Self Petition

Let's start with the task of preparing USCIS Form I-360. The instructions below refer to the edition of the form published on 07/15/22.

Form I-360 is used for several different types of applications, which means you will not need to fill out the entire form. After filling out the preliminary biographical and other information (Parts 1 through 5), skip the portions that say: "Part 6. Complete Only If Filing for an Amerasian;" "Part 7. Complete Only If Filing as a Widow/Widower," "Part 8. Complete Only If Filing for a Special Immigrant Juvenile Court Dependent;" and "Part 9. Complete Only If Filing a Special Immigrant Religious Worker Petition."

Be sure to fill out Parts 10 and Part 11, however, and to sign the application in Parts 11 and 12 (in the sections for "Petitioner" and "Authorized Signatory."

If someone helped you translate or fill out this form, they should fill out Part 13 or 14.

Use Part 15 to fill in anything that didn't fit in the earlier portions of the form.

Most of Form I-360 is pretty straightforward. However, there are a few things to consider. First, Form I-360 allows you to use another person's address in Part 1 instead of your own (Question 7, an "alternate and/or safe mailing address"), in case you are still living with an abusive person who might get angry and punish you for filing this form. This is the address to where all USCIS notices will be sent, so be sure that you can receive mail at this address in the future.

Self-petitioning spouses and children should check either box "I" or "J" in Part 2.

(Video) Fill Out USCIS Form I-360 Step-by-Step Guide for Special Immigrant Religious Workers EB4 Green Card

Part 3 asks for information about you. Enter only a valid Social Security number, if you have one. You might not have an "A number," either; it's only given to people who've filed previous immigration applications or been in deportation proceedings. If you entered the U.S. with a visa, your I-94 should be available on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

Be sure to list all children in Part 5—yours, and if you are filing as the spouse of an abuser, the abuser's children also (whether they're also yours or not).

Part 4 asks you to state whether you'd like to have your interview held at a U.S. consulate outside the United States. This is appropriate if you yourself are living abroad. However, your first choice if you're in the U.S. now would be to adjust status, meaning to submit paperwork to, and attend your interview at a USCIS office. Although not everyone is normally eligible to adjust status, owing to various bars such as for illegal entry, these bars are lifted for VAWA self-petitioners. (See the USCIS Policy Manual at Chapter 8 - Inapplicability of Bars to Adjustment.)

Part 10 asks for information about the abuser and about your relationship with the abuser.

What to Include With VAWA Self-Petition on USCIS Form I-360

In addition to the form, you will need to include evidence that you meet all the requirements of VAWA. This evidence should include such items as:

  • a written declaration describing your relationship, the abuse you suffered, your good moral character, and anything else relevant to proving your eligibility
  • other evidence of the abuse, such as police or hospital records or court-issued protective orders
  • police clearance records showing your criminal record, or lack thereof, and other evidence that you are a person of "good moral character"—you can obtain the certificates from the police department of any town you have lived in during the last three years for more than six months
  • proof that the abuser is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
  • proof that you are the abuser's spouse, child, or parent (marriage or birth certificate)
  • proof that you lived with the abuser, and
  • proof that you currently live in the United States.

For more information, see Proving Your VAWA Case: Evidence to Submit With I-360 Self-Petition.

It is also helpful to include a cover letter on top of the application describing how you meet each requirement and the evidence you have submitted to prove it.

(Video) I 360 Petition + Green Card

No USCIS filing fee is required for self-petitioning abused spouses, parents, or children.

Submitting Form I-360 to USCIS

The I-360 page of the USCIS website contains complete submission instructions—but there's one important thing you need to figure out before you send it in. Are you the immediate relative of your abuser (the spouse, parent, or minor, unmarried child of a U.S. citizen), or do you have a current priority date (based on a previously filed I-130)?

If either of these are true, you can save a lot of time by filing your I-360 at the same time as your green card application (described below). That way, you don't have to wait for USCIS approval of the I-360 before moving forward with your green card application.

Otherwise—for example, if you're the spouse or child or a U.S. permanent resident who never submitted an I-130 petition on your behalf—you will need to submit your Form I-360 to USCIS, wait for its approval, and then file your green card (adjustment of status) application.

What Happens After You Submit the I-360 Self-Petition to USCIS

After USCIS receives your I-360 petition, it will send a receipt notice to the address you have provided on the form. USCIS may then review the self-petition to see whether it can be approved if everything you stated within is true. This is called a "prima facie determination."

If USCIS decides that your self-petition can be approved if it is true, it will send you a "Prima Facie Approval" letter. This does not mean you are granted anything yet. It does, however, mean that you can qualify for some types of public assistance. After sending you this Prima Facie Approval letter, USCIS will take more time to look carefully at your self-petition.

If USCIS needs more evidence to determine whether it should approve your I-360, it will send you a letter asking for it. You will have 60 days to give USCIS the new evidence or an explanation as to why you cannot do so.


If USCIS does not believe you qualify as an abused spouse, parent, or child, it might send you a "Notice of Intent to Deny." This will state the reasons why USCIS believes you do not qualify, and will give you additional time to send evidence that will change its mind. If you do not send convincing follow-up evidence, USCIS will deny the self-petition.

USCIS can also deny your I-360 without sending you a Notice of Intent to Deny.

If USCIS believes it has enough evidence showing that you are an abused spouse, parent, or child, it will send you an approval letter for your self-petition. This does not mean you are a lawful permanent resident yet, however. You have only completed the first step in the process.

After Your I-360 Receives USCIS Approval

After USCIS approves your I-360, you can begin to prepare your application to adjust your status (receive a green card). The main form for this is USCIS Form I-485, and more detailed instructions are found in How to File for Adjustment of Status (a Green Card) Based on VAWA.

If the abuser is a U.S. citizen, you are eligible to apply to adjust status as soon as your I-360 has been approved.

If the abuser is a permanent resident (green card holder), however, you will have to wait for a visa to become available in order to apply for your green card. However, with an approved I-360, you can remain lawfully in the U.S. and can apply for work authorization (an employment authorization document or EAD, using USCIS Form I-765) while you wait. Your place on the waiting list is based on your "priority date," which is the date that your I-360 was approved. If the abuser previously filed an I-130 petition for you, you can use that priority date instead.

See Adjustment of Status Procedures for more information on this final stage of the green card application process.

(Video) How Long Until I Get My VAWA Green Card???

Getting Legal Help

Because the process of applying for VAWA-based permanent residence is complex, consider getting a full analysis of your situation from an experienced immigration attorney. The attorney can also help you prepare the paperwork and monitor your application as it makes its way through the system.


What happens after Form I-360 is approved? ›

After a Form I-360 petition is approved, the self-petitioner may apply for adjustment of status until his or her priority date is current. Battered spouses or children in the immediate relative category will be able to apply for adjustment of status as soon as the Form I-360 is approved.

How long does it take for I-360 special immigrant to be approved? ›

While USCIS generally adjudicates Form I-360 petitions for SIJ classification within 180 days, this time frame does not apply to Form I-485. If we approve your SIJ petition, we will send you an approval notice.

What is VAWA i360? ›

A VAWA self-petitioning parent of an abusive U.S. citizen son or daughter who is 21 years old or older; or. A special immigrant.

Can I file I-360 and I-485 together? ›

With this court ruling however, I-360 applications may now submit an I-485 adjustment of status application concurrently.

What is the next step after I-360? ›

After USCIS approves your I-360, you can begin to prepare your application to adjust your status (receive a green card). If the abuser is a U.S. citizen, you are eligible to apply to adjust status as soon as your I-360 has been approved.

Is there an interview for VAWA green card? ›

For Green Card applications made under asylum laws or the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the interviewer's goal is to make sure you need a Green Card to receive the safety and protection you claim you need in your application.

How long does it take to get a green card after VAWA approval? ›

Now that USCIS has approved your VAWA green card, you should wait to receive your official notice of approval or welcome by mail. After that, you will receive your actual green card by mail. The processing time can be 30–60 days after seeing “Case Approved.”

Is there premium processing for I-360? ›

Is Premium Processing Service available for I-360 special immigrant religious worker petitions? A7. No. Premium Processing Service is only available for R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker petitions at this time.

Does I-360 have premium processing? ›

This is due to the fact that premium processing is only available to visas and green cards that make use of either the I-129 or the I-140 petition forms. Because the EB-4 uses the I-360, it is not eligible.

How long does VAWA take to be approved 2023? ›

After someone applies for a Green Card under the VAWA and if no other information is needed, the waiting begins. The USCIS will issue a prima facie determination of the abuse and determine the applicant is eligible for certain benefits. This may take six months or more to occur.

Can I travel while my VAWA is pending? ›

o No, please strongly advise against travel. Your client can be barred from applying to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident if they have accrued unlawful presence and leave the United States.

How long does USCIS take for VAWA? ›

Although it may take 16 – 21 months to fully process a VAWA petition, USCIS will issue a Prima Facie Determination Notice to qualified petitioners who meet all filing requirements.

Does USCIS investigate VAWA? ›

USCIS will not interview you about your VAWA self-petition and there is no court date so you will not have to testify about the abuse. USCIS will decide whether to grant your self-petition based on the written evidence that you submit.

Does VAWA require biometrics? ›

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.

What is prima facie determination I 360? ›

The prima facie determination notice is issued when a self-petitioner files supporting evidence to meet each of the eligibility requirements for the VAWA self- petition. The prima facie determination notice clearly states that the notice may be used to assist VAWA self-petitioners in receiving public benefits.

Is there an interview for I-360? ›

The hiring process at i360 takes an average of 31.84 days when considering 30 user submitted interviews across all job titles. Candidates applying for Intern had the quickest hiring process (on average 4 days), whereas Database Analyst roles had the slowest hiring process (on average 120 days).

How do I know if my i360 is approved? ›

After USCIS receives your I-360 petition, it will send a receipt notice to the address you have provided on the form. USCIS may then review the self-petition to see whether it can be approved if everything you stated within is true.

Is I-360 a green card? ›

USCIS Form I-360 is a petition many immigrants can file to apply for a green card. Form I-360 covers a multitude of immigration groups and visa types.

Is it easy to get approved for VAWA? ›

VAWA Self-Petitions Usually Require a Lot of Supporting Evidence. The process of petitioning for a green card through VAWA requires only two steps—but that doesn't mean it's easy. To get your case approved, you will need to submit a lot of evidence about both you and your abuser.

Can my green card be approved without an interview? ›

All adjustment of status applicants must be interviewed by an officer unless the interview is waived by USCIS. The decision to waive the interview should be made on a case-by-case basis. The interview enables USCIS to verify important information about the applicant to determine eligibility for adjustment.

What is the approval rate of VAWA? ›

(70 % or 6,412 petitions approved and 30% or 2,712 petitions denied).

Can VAWA be denied? ›

Submitting proof of abuse is an essential part of the VAWA process. Without sufficient proof, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may deny an application or request additional evidence.

How long does it take to get a receipt for VAWA application? ›

After USCIS receives your VAWA self-petition, it takes around 30 days for the government to issue you a receipt notice, which is sometimes called an I-797 notice, acknowledging they have received your application. The notice will include a receipt number that you can use to track your application status.

What evidence do I need to file for VAWA? ›

A clear copy of your passport or birth certificate. Proof demonstrating you are a U.S. citizen or hold a Green Card. Proof that shows you are the abuser's spouse, child or parent. Proof showing you lived with the abuser.

Will USCIS speed up in 2023? ›

As cycle times improve, processing times will follow, and applicants and petitioners will receive decisions on their cases more quickly. USCIS will increase capacity, improve technology, and expand staffing to achieve these new goals by the end of FY 2023.

How can I speed up my USCIS process? ›

You can generally request expedited processing by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) or by asking Emma after you have obtained a receipt notice. (You can access Emma by clicking on the Ask Emma icon on the top right of this page).

What cases are eligible for premium processing? ›

As of Jan. 30, 2023, all pending and initial Form I-140 petitions under an E13 multinational executive and manager classification and E21 NIW classification are eligible to request premium processing.

Can I stay in U.S. while I 360 is pending? ›

Any immigrant who entered the U.S. on some sort of temporary visa and then submitted a green card application (for U.S. lawful permanent or conditional residence) is allowed to remain in the United States while the application is "pending." In other words, they can wait until their application has been decided upon by ...

How long does it take to get a green card with premium processing? ›

Premium processing is an optional service provided by the USCIS that allows applicants to shorten the processing time of certain visas and green cards to 15 calendar days. It seems relatively straightforward, but there are some caveats to the process that should be taken into consideration before applying.

What is the fastest way to get green card? ›

If you're a close relative to a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, they can petition for you to obtain legal permanent residency. This option is the fastest and most popular path to getting a green card.

Does VAWA stop deportation? ›

Unfortunately, having a pending VAWA self-petition does not mean that you have lawful status in the United States. However, your immigration attorney may be able to ask the government not to deport you or to stop your removal proceedings based on your pending self-petition.

Does VAWA protect you from deportation? ›

VAWA cancellation of removal is a form of relief designed to keep victims of abusive U.S.-citizen or LPR spouses or parents from being deported. It is a form of relief that a noncitizen victim can seek in immigration court after being placed in removal proceedings.

Is VAWA an immigration status? ›

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), creating special routes to immigration status for certain battered non-citizens. Among the basic requirements for eligibility, a battered noncitizen must be the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Will my spouse know I filed for VAWA? ›

The petition must be filed within the two years following any final divorce decree. We understand it can be difficult to talk about the abuse you have gone through. This is a completely confidential process so your husband will not know that you are filing a VAWA case.

Can I marry after VAWA is approved? ›

In order to qualify for a self-petition as the abused child of a US citizen or legal permanent resident, you must be unmarried at the time of filing the self-petition and remain unmarried until it has been approved. It is okay to get married after your self-petition is granted.

Can I file VAWA without evidence? ›

VAWA applications rely on the “any credible evidence” standard. The USCIS must consider all credible evidence submitted with the petition. If primary evidence is not available, the USCIS can accept secondary evidence, such as declarations or affidavits, to satisfy elements of the claim.

Does VAWA require sponsorship? ›

Do You Need a Sponsor if You're a VAWA Self-Petitioner? You do not need a sponsor if you are a VAWA self-petitioner. You may apply on your own.

What is next after prima facie determination? ›

Once USCIS makes a prima facie determination that there is abuse, USCIS is closer to granting the I-360. Once the I-360 is granted, the petitioner does not obtain legal status in the United States. It means that the VAWA petitioner can apply for adjustment when they are eligible to do so.

Can you travel with prima facie? ›

After receiving your prima facie determination, you'll have to wait for the USCIS to make a decision on your VAWA case. Until then, you're not a lawful permanent resident, meaning that you can't travel outside the US.

What happens after a prima facie case? ›

Prima facie is typically used in civil cases, where the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. However, just because a case has been determined prima facie doesn't mean that the plaintiff will win. If the plaintiff lacks sufficient evidence supporting their claim, then the court will likely dismiss the case.

What happens after adjustment of status is approved? ›

Upon approval, the applicant is mailed a Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card. The date the Form I-485 is approved becomes the date of adjustment, which in turn determines how soon the newly adjusted Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) may apply for U.S. citizenship. Permanent Resident Cards are valid for ten years.

How long after approval notice do you get green card? ›

When your application for permanent residency is approved, USCIS will mail you a welcome notice within 30 days. After you receive the welcome notice, you should receive your Green Card in the mail sometime in the next 30 days.

How long does it take to get approval notice from USCIS after approval? ›

USCIS takes 15 days to adjudicate plus mailing time for Approval Notice; a total of approximately 5 weeks. Employee has to obtain visa and travel to U.S., that takes approximately one month (longer if a background check is initiated). That means: You should send us your request 2 1/2 - 3 months ahead of time.

How long does it take to get green card after i765 approval? ›

In general, it takes about 150–210 days (5–7 months) for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process Form I-765. Previously, USCIS processed work permit applications within 90 days, but a growing backlog has caused additional delays.

Can I-485 be approved without an interview? ›

All adjustment of status applicants must be interviewed by an officer unless the interview is waived by USCIS. The decision to waive the interview should be made on a case-by-case basis. The interview enables USCIS to verify important information about the applicant to determine eligibility for adjustment.

How long does it take to get green card after adjustment of status? ›

Although the adjustment of status process typically takes longer than consular processing, it has its advantages. The adjustment of status timeline is generally 8 to 14 months for family-based applications (and often longer for other application types).

How do you know if your green card is approved? ›

Case Status Updates
  • Go to our Case Status Online page and use your Form I-485 receipt number to look up your case status.
  • Submit a case inquiry if you think your application is outside of our normal processing times.
  • Call our USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283.
Jan 31, 2020

Can I travel with green card approval notice? ›

After submitting a green card application, an applicant may only be authorized to leave the country and reenter the US once they have received the Travel Authorization/Advance Parole document.

What is the fastest you can get a green card? ›

Marriage to U.S. Citizen

This is the fastest way to immigrate. Typically, the process lasts from six to nine months, after which a temporary Green Card is received. Within the next two years, you must contact the USCIS again with proof of the validity of the marriage.

What is next after green card is approved? ›

Once you have received your immigrant visa, you must enter the United States within the visa validity period to obtain an alien registration receipt or “green” card (Form I-151 or I-551) that will allow you to live and work in the United States. You will receive your passport from the courier service.

What next after your petition is approved? ›

After USCIS approves your petition, they will transfer your case to the Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) for pre-processing. The first step in this processing is the creation of your case in our system. Once this is complete, we will send you a Welcome Letter by e-mail or physical mail.

Does USCIS email approval notice? ›

When expedited processing is utilized, the Premium Processing Unit at the USCIS California Service Center will send an e-mail notification to the OIS after the petition has been approved. The OIS will normally receive the hard copy of the H-1B approval notice within 5-7 working days after the email notification.

Does EAD approval mean green card will be approved? ›

When USCIS approves your application for permanent residency and issues a Green Card, your EAD will automatically expire. Permanent residents do not need employment authorization, as their Green Card serves as proof of their authorization to work in the United States.

How long does it take to get I-485 approved after biometrics? ›

The date, time, and place will be included in the Appointment Notice. The I-485 processing time after biometrics is 11 to 22 months.

How long does it take to get green card after case was approved I-485? ›

Approximately 8 to 14 Months After Filing.


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