One of our VAWA clients was approved for lawful permanent resident status in Orange County, California. I attended the adjustment of status interview in the Santa Ana office of USCIS along with my client. She entered the United States in 2002 from the Philippines. She visited friends for several months and met a man. The couple began dating and he proposed to her. After the couple married, her husband became more controlling and, eventually, violent.
She escaped from the house with the help of her friend, and she moved away from him. After several years living apart from him, she learned about VAWA and called our office. I remember meeting with her over two years ago. Although the facts of her case sounded strong, I was worried that we would not be able to document the abuse. It had been such a long time since the abuse occurred and the couple had lived together, she did not have much documentation to support her claims of abuse and good faith marriage. I advised her that I was not confident in her case, but we would do our best. The client understood the challenges but decided to move forward with the case.
We spent several months preparing the case – helping the client prepare her written statement, collecting statements from friends that witnessed the relationship and collecting IRS documents to corroborate the bona fides of the marriage. We filed the I-360 VAWA application in June 2011.
In August 2012, we received a request for evidence asking for further evidence to prove good faith marriage and joint residence. The RFE did not ask for further proof of domestic violence, which was a pleasant surprise because it meant USCIS was satisfied that our client was the victim of abuse. We collected additional written statements from family members and friends attesting that they had visited our client and her husband in their home and know that the couple lived together.
Three months after our response, we received an approval notice for the I-360. USCIS advises that the case would be transferred to USCIS Santa Ana for an interview. The interview went smoothly. The officer verified admissibility information and my client’s address. He did not ask any questions about the abuse, because the issue had already been decided at the I-360 phase. (Once the I-360 has been approved, the USCIS officer interviewing for the I-485 should not revisit questions pertaining to abuse and good faith marriage. Sometimes, officers forget this though.)
The client was excited about the result. I informed her that she would be eligible to naturalize in three years, and she said she would like me to help her with that process. If you are the victim of domestic violence, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will help you better understand the options available to you during a confidential meeting.