I filed for my VAWA petition and change of status form. about how long should I wait to receive a decision for the VAWA petition? What is the waiting period (aprox) time for VAWA petition?   When do I receive a working permit, change of status, and social security card?

The short answer is, if you filed your petition with the Vermont Service Center(VSC), you can expect your petition to be processed within 5 months.  You can find the link for processing times here:  https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplay.do

If you think that you deserve expedited treatment of your application due to extraordinary humanitarian concerns (their term not mine), call the VSC VAWA Hotline (1-802-527-4888) and make your case.

As you know, VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act.  Congress passed it in 1994 to protect spouses, children, and parents of American citizens from physical and mental abuse.  It allows the victim to self-petition for permanent residency and adjustment of status without the abuser’s consent or knowledge.  To be eligible, you must meet certain criteria:

  1. You must be either legally married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident batterer or your marriage was terminated by the abusive spouse’s death within the two years prior to filing. Also, you may file a petition if you divorced your spouse directly because of that abuse within two years before filing the petition.
  2. The abuse and battering must have taken place in the United States, unless the abusive spouse United States government employee.
  3. You must have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage, or must be the parent of a child who was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse during the marriage.
  4. You are a person of good moral character.
  5. You entered your marriage in good faith and not for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.

When you receive your employment authorization card (work permit), change of status, and social security card depends on to whom you are married and  how well you made your case in the VAWA application.  If you qualify as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, then you do not have to wait for an immigration visa to become available.

If your application is strong enough to establish a “prima facie” case of abuse, you will be considered a “qualified alien” for the purpose of eligibility for public benefits.  The VSC reviews each petition initially to determine whether you have addressed each of the requirements listed above and has provided supporting evidence. This is called a prima facie determination.  Evidence that will help you make a prima facie case include copies of police reports, medical reports, marriage certificates, divorce decree, and any other evidence, such as eyewitness affidavits, that will support your claims of abuse and that you have a good faith marriage.

If the VSC makes a prima facie determination, you will receive a Notice of Prima Facie Determination, which is valid for 180 days. The notice may be presented to state and federal agencies that provide public benefits.

If you did not establish a prima facie case, then VSC will likely issue an RFE (Request for Evidence) to support the claims for which they think you have not submitted enough evidence.

If you do receive an RFE, you may want to consult a lawyer to help you prove your case.

God bless you.


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