Big News for VAWA Applicants: No More Filing Fees for Your Entire Application Package!

Great news for those applying under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)! From April 1st 2024, VAWA applicants will no longer be required to pay filing fees for the entire application package, including Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document), and Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). This significant change aims to ease the financial burden on individuals seeking protection and legal status under VAWA.

Understanding VAWA and Its Importance

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was enacted in 1994 to provide protection and support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of abuse. It allows certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to file for immigration relief without the abuser’s knowledge or consent. This legal pathway is crucial for victims who need to escape abusive situations and secure their safety and future in the United States.

What’s Changed?

Previously, VAWA applicants had to pay separate filing fees for their application package. This could amount to a substantial sum, creating an additional hurdle for individuals already facing challenging circumstances. Recognizing the need for greater support, USCIS has eliminated these fees, making the application process more accessible and less financially burdensome.

Key Forms and Their Functions

  1. Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
    • This form is used to apply for a green card (permanent residency) in the United States. It is a crucial step for VAWA applicants seeking to secure their status and build a new life free from abuse.
  2. Form I-131: Application for Travel Document
    • Form I-131 allows applicants to apply for a travel document, such as Advance Parole, which permits them to travel outside the United States while their application is pending without jeopardizing their immigration status.
  3. Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization
    • This form is used to request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), allowing applicants to work legally in the United States while their VAWA petition and adjustment of status application are being processed.

How Does This Benefit VAWA Applicants?

  1. Financial Relief
    • By eliminating the filing fees for these essential forms, USCIS is providing much-needed financial relief to VAWA applicants. This change allows individuals to focus on rebuilding their lives without the added stress of covering costly application fees.
  2. Increased Accessibility
    • This policy change makes the VAWA application process more accessible to those who need it most. Removing financial barriers ensures that more individuals can seek the protection and support they deserve.
  3. Supportive Measures
    • This initiative reflects a broader commitment to supporting survivors of domestic violence and abuse. It underscores the importance of providing comprehensive assistance to those in vulnerable situations.

What Should VAWA Applicants Do?

If you are planning to apply for VAWA benefits, be sure to take advantage of this fee waiver. From April 1st, you will no longer need to include payment for the I-485, I-131, and I-765 forms when submitting your application package.

Conclusion

The elimination of filing fees for VAWA applicants marks a significant step forward in supporting survivors of abuse and ensuring they have access to essential immigration relief. If you or someone you know is considering applying under VAWA, this new policy offers a valuable opportunity to pursue your application without the burden of additional costs.