Receiving a prima facie determination means that the USCIS received your VAWA application and you provided sufficient evidence to show you qualify— it doesn’t mean that your petition has been approved or denied.
So what happens if your VAWA application gets denied after prima facie? Why did the USCIS deny your petition? What happens next?
We’ll answer all of your VAWA and prima facie questions.
Why Would VAWA Be Denied After Prima Facie?
Your VAWA application can be denied after you receive a prima facie determination; however, you can prevent this outcome in many cases by working with an immigration attorney to ensure that you properly file the correct forms and evidence of your abuse.
Common reasons why VAWA petitions get denied after prima facie include:
- Incorrect Forms/Incorrect Information
One of the most common reasons for VAWA denials is filling out the required forms incorrectly.
The forms you must file depend on various factors, including whether you are (or were) married to your abuser, your immigration status, if you’re in removal proceedings, if your conditional green card is based on the marriage, if you have children, etc.
In addition, you may not have access to information about your abuser. If that’s the case, an experienced immigration attorney can help get the information you need to file your VAWA petition.
Don’t let your VAWA petition get denied because of a simple error — trust the experts at Abogada Ashley Immigration to file your application correctly.
- Missing the Filing Deadline/Sending Application to the Wrong Place
Another reason why your VAWA petition might get denied is that you either missed the filing deadline. You must file either while you’re still married or within two years of getting a divorce. However, you may also be eligible if your spouse lost their citizenship, or permanent resident status, or passed away.
Another thing many people filing for VAWA green cards or just a VAWA self-petition don’t know is that you must file your application at specific locations, depending on factors like where you live and whether you are including Form I-485 or not.
- Insufficient Evidence of Relationship Or Abuse
To qualify for a VAWA green card, the USCIS requires you to have proof of your relationship with your abuser and proof of the abuse.
These can be challenging to prove, which is why working with an immigration lawyer is helpful — they can help you determine the documentation you need to submit.
- Failure to Prove All VAWA Requirements
Establishing the abuse you suffered and your relationship with the abuser aren’t all you need to prove to the USCIS — you must also have evidence showing that your abuser has a green card or is a US citizen, the abuse occurred in the U.S., the extent of the abuse, and that you are a person with good moral character.
- Being Unprepared/Not Having a Proper Lawyer
Missing a deadline, biometrics or interview appointment can negatively impact your VAWA case. An immigration attorney can notify you anytime a change happens with your application to avoid missing any important dates. The attorney’s office address will be used as your “safe mailing address” with immigration for all correspondence about your case.
When hiring an attorney, it’s important to meet with them before making the decision to have them represent you for your VAWA claim. You want to find a lawyer experienced with immigration law and VAWA — ask them about their past successes and read their testimonials from previous clients.
Can I Reapply For VAWA After Being Denied?
If your VAWA petition gets denied, your denial letter will outline how you can file an appeal to reapply. Within 33 days after the denial, you can file a Notice of Appeal with USCIS.
When the USCIS denies a VAWA petition, it doesn’t mean that you can’t file a new one.
An immigration attorney can help rebuild your case and obtain the necessary proof, photographs, documentation, affidavits, etc., that you’ll need to refile with the USCIS.
How Long Does VAWA Take To Be Approved?
After applying for a VAWA green card, the waiting begins. First, the USCIS will issue you a prima facie determination to address whether you are eligible for certain benefits under immigration law — this can take months.
However, getting a decision on your application can take much longer, depending on current processing times. You can check your case status and current processing times here — as of this post, processing times for VAWA applications are around 30.5 months.
Does USCIS Investigate VAWA?
Filing for a VAWA green card is a little more complicated than submitting a few forms and paying the application fee.
The USCIS will investigate your claims, which is why including sufficient evidence with your petition is crucial. USCIS will compare the information you provide to them with any other information that might conflict what they have available in your records. However, USCIS is not allowed to consider any information that your abuser might provide to try and harm your case without also being able to independently verify that information with other information that is not from your abuser.
What Are the Odds of Winning an Immigration Appeal?
While you can appeal a denied VAWA petition, the chances of winning aren’t great if you can’t supply the evidence and information that was missing from your original application.
That’s why we always recommend working with an immigration attorney from the beginning of your petition to ensure that you file correctly the first time. However, if you get denied and have to appeal your VAWA application, we can help.
Want to get your VAWA application right the first time? Reach out to us today — Start your petition off right.
What Happens After Prima Facie Determination?
Once you receive your prima facie determination, it doesn’t mean that your VAWA green card is approved or denied — it means that the USCIS received the evidence of your abuse.
And while it’s possible to receive a negative decision, the officer reviewing your case will likely send you a request for evidence first if they need more information, documents, evidence, etc.
Can I Travel With VAWA?
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.
Traveling outside the US isn’t recommended until you obtain permanent residency; however, you can apply for advance parole when emergencies arise — for example, if a relative falls ill in another country. If you also have a Form I-485 pending for your green card, you can receive advance parole on this basis as well while your VAWA case is pending.
Your immigration attorney can help you get advance parole to travel safely.
Find a Trusted Lawyer For Your VAWA Application
With the long processing times for VAWA applications, getting it right the first time is crucial if you want to receive your green card in a timely manner.
The solution is to work with a trusted, experienced immigration lawyer to help you gather evidence and documentation, fill out and file the proper forms, and make your VAWA case as strong as possible. Related: Green Card Denied? Here’s What Happens Next