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Legal Information: Federal

Immigration

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Updated: 
May 17, 2021

What are the "grounds of inadmissibility" and how can they affect my chances of getting lawful permanent residence?

Most people who want to enter the US or get legal status in the US must show they are not barred by a long set of rules called the “grounds of inadmissibility.” This is also true for approved VAWA self-petitioners who are filing for lawful permanent residence. These grounds of inadmissibility rules are very complicated and your lawyer will need to know what the immigration courts and federal courts have said about them to answer the government’s questions correctly.

If you have done something that conflicts with one of the “grounds” on the list, you may be able to ask for a waiver, which would allow you to get legal status despite having done something that conflicts with the grounds. US Citizenship and Immigration Services will consider the pros and cons of your application to decide whether you should get the waiver, and therefore lawful permanent residence. If USCIS denies you the waiver, it will deny your case and may put you into immigration proceedings, which may result in your deportation. This is one main reason you must work with an immigration lawyer who knows about VAWA self-petitions.

1 8 USC § 1182; INA § 212

If my self-petition is approved, when can I apply for lawful permanent residence (green card)?

You may be able to file for lawful permanent residence at the time of filing the VAWA self-petition or you may need to wait several years after the self-petition is approved before you can file, depending on various factors, which we discuss below.

Also, in addition to filling out the necessary forms, your lawyer will have to show that the special barriers to getting status, which are known as the “grounds of inadmissibility,” do not apply to you, or that you qualify for a waiver, which means you should get status even if they do apply to you. For more information, see What are the “grounds of inadmissibility” and how can they affect my chances of getting lawful permanent residence?

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you and your attorney may be able to file for your lawful permanent residence at the same time that you file your VAWA self-petition (Form I-360) or at any time after that:

  • Is/was the abuser your US citizen spouse?
  • Is/was the abuser your US citizen parent?
  • Is/was the abuser your US citizen child who is age 21 or older?1

If your abusive spouse or parent is a lawful permanent resident, you may have to wait several years to file for lawful permanent residence. Exactly when you can file is determined by a complicated system.2 You will need to work with an immigration attorney to figure out when you can file, what forms you will need to use, and what else you will need to show. If you file the wrong forms, fill them out incorrectly, or do not explain why any special barriers that apply to you should not count, you may end up in immigration court facing deportation.

1 INA § 201(b)(2)(A)(i)
2USCIS website – Visa Availability and Priority Dates

Once I have permanent residency, when can I apply for my citizenship?

If you qualified for VAWA through marriage to an abusive US citizen or due to being the child of an abusive US citizen parent, you can apply for citizenship (naturalization) after having your legal permanent residency for three years.

If you qualified for VAWA through marriage to an abusive legal permanent resident, due to being the child of an abusive legal permanent resident parent, or due to being the parent of an abusive US citizen, you can apply for citizenship (naturalization) after having your legal permanent residency for five years.1

1 See USCIS website & USCIS Interoffice memorandum, 1/27/05