VAWA And Work Authorization
VAWA or Violence Against Woman Act was adopted to help and protect victims of violence and covers not only women, but also battered and abused men, parents and children. There are various groups eligible for VAWA benefits, but this article will focus on one important aspect of the VAWA process: an employment authorization for VAWA applicants.
Many are probably aware that in order to receive an employment authorization in the United States, a person would have to file form I 765. A typical VAWA applicant who is filing I 360 form and can file I 485 form (adjustment of status) concurrently, would also submit a separate I 765 form requesting a c(9) work eligibility group, or eligibility based on pending adjustment of status application.
However, this is just one option that a VAWA applicant might have. There are instances when a VAWA applicant cannot file I 485 together with I 360 form: for example, an abuser was a permanent resident and not a US citizen, and a priority date has to become current before a person can file I 485 form. It might also be that a VAWA applicant may file I 360 form, but is not eligible for an adjustment of status (let’s say a K-1 visa entrant who is filing VAWA based on a subsequent marriage, but who never adjusted based on fiancé petition filed for her that was the basis for her K1 visa). In such situations, a VAWA applicant may receive an employment authorization under two different eligibility categories.
Form I 360 nowadays has a question 12: if an applicant would like to receive an employment authorization incident to the approval of I 360 form. If an applicant checks this box, then he/she would receive an employment authorization after the approval of I 360 form automatically, without filing I 765 form, under c(31) eligibility category. Mind here: it may take longer than a year to receive an approval of I -360 form, and all this time, a person would not be able to work legally.
There is another option: c(14) eligibility category based on an approved I 360 /deferred action (note: under the instructions, you will need to prove an economic necessity for this category). For the moment, applicants may file these I-765s concurrently with the I-360. But here, also, an approval for the work authorization would come only after I 360 is approved, and not while it is pending.
To sum up, I 360 applicants may receive employment authorizations based on three different categories. It is best, if they qualify for c(9) category because in this case they can receive a work authorization while waiting for their I 360 and I 485 to be approved.