Q: Where can I find the government forms?
Q: Will I get the latest versions of the forms?
A: www.uscis.gov keeps updating the forms regularly. You’ll need to visit the relevant forms section to see if older versions of the forms will be accepted or not.
Q: What forms do I need to file a VAWA case?
A: First of all, it depends on your client’s eligibility.
1. If your client is eligible only for I-360, Self-Petition for Battered Spouse/Child, then you’ll need to submit two forms:
- Form G-28, Notice of Appearance as Attorney
- Form I-360, Self-Petition for Battered Spouse/Child
2. If your client is also eligible for I-485, application for adjustment of status simultaneously, then the following forms are also required:
- Form G-28, Notice of Appearance as Attorney (for I-360)
- I-360, Self-Petition for Battered Spouse/Child
- Form G-28, Notice of Appearance as Attorney (for I-485)
- I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status
- G-325A, Biographic Information
- I-864W, Waiver of Affidavit of Support
- I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
- Form G-28, Notice of Appearance as Attorney (for I-765)
- I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
Q: Who needs to sign the forms, the client or the attorney?
A: The forms must be duly signed by both the client and the person who prepares the forms, most often the attorney.
Q: What applications can a client be eligible for? Can they file only for I-360, or can they also file I-765 and I-485?
A: You’ll need to consult with National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) for this. The case summary, as well as the NIJC case notes, have this information. Verifying eligibility is important before filing the application.
USCIS Fees & Fee Waivers
Q: How much does USCIS charge for applications?
A: Visit www.uscis.gov to know about fees for each application.
Q: Can an applicant request a fee waiver? If yes, what’s the procedure?
A: I-360 needs no waiver application because it doesn’t have any fee. For the forms I-485 and I-765, however, there’s a fee, and VAWA applicants can request a fee waiver for them.
You’ll need to fill the I-912 form to request the fee waiver. USCIS uses discretion to waive the fee of applicants who:
- are receiving a means-tested benefit
- have a household income not exceeding 150% of the poverty guidelines
- can demonstrate financial destitution
Applicants can claim fee waiver eligibility using any more than one ground. Submit means-tested benefits statements, taxes, pay stubs, utility bills, rent receipts, medical bills, and other documentation that will help you substantiate your fee waiver application.
At the same time, the cover letter should also mention that the client is requesting a fee waiver.
Q: Does NIJC provide translators and interpreters for calls and interviews?
A: Unfortunately, no. Pro bono attorneys are required to try finding an interpreter or a translator at their end. In case they can’t find one, then the clients are asked if they know any translators. The condition here is that the translator should not be a family member of the client. If that doesn’t work, too, then get in touch with NIJC and ask how to find a voluntary translator. NIJC doesn’t have the resources to provide translators and interpreters.
Q: Should the translator be certified for conducting the translation?
A: No, the translator should be well-versed in English and the language of the client.
Q: What documents require translations?
A: ASll the documents written in a foreign language need to be translated into English. The only exception is the documents that are issued in both the foreign language and English. For example, a passport that has both the foreign language and its English translation.
Q: What do I do if a document is partially written in a foreign language?
A: You’ll need to submit a translation for the part written in a foreign language.
Q: What are the translation requirements?
A: The English translation of a document written in a foreign language must have a certificate of competence signed by the translator.
Certificate of Translator’s Competence
I, (translator’s name), hereby certify that the above is an accurate translation of
the original in (foreign language) and that I am competent in both English and
(foreign language) to render such a translation.
Q: Do the translations need to be notarized?
A: The translations must be signed by the translator; no notarization is required.
Q: Is there a fixed format to translate the birth certificates and marriage certificates written in a foreign language?
A: Yes, refer to the appendix for samples.
Q: Do I need to translate the complete document, or can I submit a translation for a portion written in a foreign language?
A: USCIS generally asks for full translation. That said, the birth and marriage certificate translation templates available in the appendix are accepted by USCIS.
Q: If and when an immigrant is eligible to file multiple applications at the same time, including the forms I-360, I-765, and I-485, do they need to be mailed in the same envelope?
A: Yes, the correct process to do it is:
- Fill relevant application forms
- Attach supporting documents
- Get cover letters in print
Now, fill each of these in dedicated envelopes. For example, Tahira Sayed needs to fill all the applications. She will take three envelopes and mark them Tahira Sayed I-360, Tahira Sayed I-765, and Tahira Sayed I-485. All these envelopes will have the relevant application forms, supporting documents, and relevant cover letters. These three envelopes will be then put together and mailed in a larger envelope.
Q: If I-485 and I-765 applications are filed with I-360, how should the applicant mention it?
A: The applicant needs to mention simultaneous filing in the cover letter. Applicants don’t need to include a copy of the I-360 form in the other two packets.
Q: Where do I mail the I-360, I-765, and I-485 packets?
A: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Vermont Service Center
Attn: VAWA Unit
75 Lower Welden St.
St. Albans, VT 05479
Q: What’s the right way to bind the application and supporting documents?
A: Two-hole punch your application, cover letter, and supporting documents and fast them with a two-hole fastener. You can also use a binder clip to keep the pages together.
Q: Do I need to tab the supporting documents?
A: No. Your application is a government file, and it must be mailed the way the government deems right. If you want to number the pages for quick and easy reading, you can use exhibit stickers that don’t protrude out of the papers and files.
Q: How many passport photos do I need to send?
A: Both the I-485 and I-765 forms require 2 passport photos each. So, if you are submitting both of these forms, you’ll need to send 4 passport photos.
Q: How do I send my passport photos with the application?
A: Write the client’s name and A number on the back of the photos in pencil. Put these photos in a small envelope and write the clients name on it too. Staple this envelope on the top left corner of the relevant application.
Q: Do I need to get letters of support from family and friends notarized?
A: Notarizing letters is recommended, but it’s not compulsory as long as the writer signs the letter.
Q: How much time it takes for VSC to adjudicate the VAWA self-petition?
A: VAWA self-petition processing time varies according to the offices. Visit www.uscis.gov to see the current processing time. To know the I-360 processing time, please visit VSC.
Q: How long does it take for the interview for the adjustment of status once the VAWA self-petition is approved?
A: You’ll need to visit www.uscis.gov to know the current processing time. To know the processing time for I-485, you’ll need to review the San Jose District Office.
Q: How long will it take before the client gets her work permit?
A: Once your client is eligible to apply for her work permit, visit www.uscis.gov for VSC for I-765.
Q: What is the biometric appointment? Is it mandatory? Do I need to accompany my client?
A: Biometric appointment pertains to taking a digital photograph and digital fingerprints of the clients who have filed for employment authorization (I-765) and adjustment of status (I-485). Attending this appointment is mandatory, or the application will be deemed abandoned. No, you don’t need to accompany your client for this.
Q: What documents should the client take along for the biometric appointment?
A: The client must bring her photo identification and the original biometrics appointment notice along.
VAWA Prima Facie Notice
Q: Does my client get eligible for public benefits when she receives a prima facie notice?
A: VAWA prima facie notice may make your client eligible for public benefits. Refer her to the nearest department of human services to apply for benefits.
Q: What are the immigration consequences of accepting the public benefits with prima facie notice?
A: Your client will need to prove that she will not be a public charge when applying for adjustment of status (Form I-485). So, she’ll need to start working for self-sufficiency before she appears for adjustment of status interview.
VAWA Approval Notice And Deferred Action
Q: VSC approved the I-360 of my client and has issued her a deferred action status for 15 months. The client didn’t request it. Is it normal?
A: Yes, all principal applicants with approved I-360 get deferred action issued by VSC.
Q: Is traveling outside the country allowed with deferred action?
A: No, advise your client strongly against traveling. Deferred action doesn’t allow an individual with I-360 approved to leave the United States. If there’s an emergency and your client has to travel, you’ll need to contact NIJC for the same. Please explain to your client that her I-360 application is for allowing her to become a legal resident of the United States. Until the process is complete, leaving the country may make her unable to return to US soil.
Q: My client received her deferred action with I-360 approval, but her children did not receive one. Is it normal? What’s the procedure to request deferred action for her children (derivatives)?
A: Yes, it’s completely normal. Once the principal applicant’s I-360 is approved, their derivates will need to request deferred action individually from the VSC with a written application.
Q: My client is working under a false name. I-360, I-485, and G-325A, all these forms ask for current employment. Should I disclose this information?
A: Absolutely. All the questions on the government forms must be answered truthfully. In case your client is working under a false name, she’ll need to disclose her employment.
Q: If my client is working under a false name, what will be the consequences?
A: It completely depends on the case. A false claim to U.S. citizenship on Form I-9 may get her barred from immigration relief. However, if she didn’t make a false claim to U.S. citizenship, she’ll need to disclose her unlawful employment. In this case, she’ll be eligible for VAWA self-petition and adjustment of status. If your client mentions that she has made a false claim for U.S. citizenship, immediately contact NIJC.
Q: Is my client eligible to file for I-765 (work authorization) along with VAWA self-petition?
A: No, she’ll also need to file her application for adjustment of status to file for work authorization.
Q: What are the categories for which a VAWA applicant qualifies for work authorization?
A: (c)(9) – a client with a pending application for adjustment of status (I-485)
NOTE: There is no category for a client with a pending VAWA self-petition. So, the client will need to wait until the VAWA self-petition is approved. However, if they also have a pending application for adjustment of status (I-485), they qualify for work authorization.
(c)(14) – a client who has been granted deferred action, which is granted only when the VAWA self-petition of the client is approved.
(c)(31) – a client with approved VAWA self-petition. This category is often used only in cases where the applicant has already received a removal or deportation order in the past.
Q: The VSC approved my client’s employment authorization with one year’s validity and sent the card via mail. Is there an option to extend it? If yes, what’s the procedure?
A: Employment authorization can be extended, but the client can only apply for it within four months till the authorization card expires. For work authorization card renewal, ask your client to contact the NIJC, i.e., once the VAWA application is approved and your representation ends.
Employment authorization renewal depends on the qualification category of the client:
(c)(9) Work Permit – You’ll need to submit a renewal application (Form I-765 and Form G-28 with the proof that the application for adjustment of status remains pending).
(c)(14) Work Permit – Submit renewal application (Form I-765 and Form G-28) with a written request in the cover letter that Deferred Action be extended as well.
(c)(31) Work Permit – Submit renewal application (Form I-765 and Form G-28) with proof of VAWA self-petition approval.
Q: What does my client need to do when she receives her employment authorization card?
A: the client needs to go to the nearest social security office along with her employment authorization card. There, she’ll need to file a request for a social security number. Once the client receives the social security number, she can start working for as long as her employment authorization card is valid.
Adjustment Of Status Review
Q: My client’s interview for adjustment of status has been scheduled. Do I need to attend the interview?
A: As her representative, you should represent your client in the interview.
Q: What important points should we keep in mind for the interview preparation?
A: Schedule a meeting with your client and practice for the interview. Make sure your client has all the necessary documents ready for the interview. The appendix has an interview document list; refer to this list to see what documents are necessary. Practice all the questions on I-485 and make sure your client can correctly answer when asked whether she is still married.
Get in touch with NIJC to know in detail.
Q: Will USCIS provide a translator? My client needs one.
A: No, USCIS doesn’t have resources for a translator. So, you or your client will need to arrange for a translator. The translator must be at least 18 years old and shouldn’t be related to the client. The translator also needs to be fluent in English and foreign language.
Q: Does the translator need a certification?
Q: Is the attorney allowed to translate the interview?
Q: When will the officer tell the decision of the interview?
A: interviews officers sometimes tell a client that they plan to approve the case. But nothing is assured until the client receives the approval notice.
Q: Once the interview is done, how long does it take to receive the decision?
A: It completely depends from case to case. That said, if you don’t receive the interview decision after 90 days of the interview, get in touch with us NIJC, and we’ll guide you on how to submit your inquiry to the nearest USCIS office.
Closing A Case
Q: My client has been granted her I-360 VAWA self-petition and/or I-485 adjustment
of status. How do I close the case with the client and NIJC?
A: 1) The first step is to check the internal case closing procedure of your firm.
2) Send a closing letter to your client and its copy to NIJC.
3) Once NIJC receives the file, an official will mail the closing letter to the client along with the advisals of her status. The case will then be closed.