To: Regional Directors
Administrative Appeals Office Director
From: Michael Aytes /s/
Acting Associate Director, Domestic Operations
Date: October 31, 2005
RE: Eligibility to Self-Petition as a Battered Spouse or Child of a U.S.
Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Within Two Years of the Abuser’s
Loss of Status
Revisions to Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapter 21.14(q)
(AFM Update AD05-12)
This memorandum provides guidance to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) officers in the field regarding amendments made to the
self-petitioning provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the
Act) by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA),
Pub. L. 106-386. Title V of the VTVPA is entitled the Battered Immigrant
Women Protection Act (BIWPA), and contains several provisions amending
the self-petitioning eligibility requirements contained in the Act. This
guidance concerns the change in the self-petitioning eligibility requirements
regarding the effect of an abuser’s loss of immigration status prior
to the filing of and following the approval of a self-petition.
This guidance is effective immediately. Please direct any questions concerning
these changes through appropriate supervisory channels to Laura Dawkins,
Office of Program and Regulations Development, via electronic mail.
Accordingly, the AFM is revised as follows:
1. The AFM currently contains chapter 21.14 entitled, “Self-petitions
by Abused Spouses and Children.” That chapter has been revised to
add a new chapter 21.14(q) (revision date [insert date memo signed]).
Revised chapter 21.14 reads:
(q) Citizenship or Immigration Status of the Abuser. (Chapter 21.14(q)
Revised [insert date memo signed]; AFM 05-07) A self-petitioning spouse
or child must demonstrate that his or her abusive spouse or parent is
or was a U.S. Citizen (USC) or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).
(1) Evidence. A self-petition filed by a battered spouse or child must
be accompanied by evidence of citizenship of the U.S. citizen or evidence
of the immigration status of the lawful permanent resident abuser. Self-petitioners
are encouraged to submit primary evidence whenever possible, although
adjudicators should consider any relevant credible evidence. 8 CFR 204.2(c)(2)(i).
However, the determination of what evidence is credible, and the weight
to be given that evidence, is left to the discretion of the adjudicating
officer. Section 204(a)(1)(J) of the INA. USCIS regulations at 8 CFR 204.1(g)
provide detailed information concerning the primary supporting documentation
needed as evidence of a petitioner’s U.S. citizenship or lawful
permanent residence. Self-petitioners can submit evidence of a spousal
relationship to a USC or LPR. The evidence allowed under 8 CFR 204.1(g)(1)
will also be allowed for self-petitioners. Primary evidence of the abuser’s
U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence includes:
- A birth certificate issued by a civil authority that shows the abuser’s
birth in the United States;
- The abuser’s unexpired U.S. passport issued initially for a full
ten-year period to a citizen of the United States;
- The abuser’s expired U.S. passport issued initially for a full five-year
period to a citizen of the United States who was under the age of 18 at
the time of issuance;
- A statement executed by a U.S. consular officer certifying the abuser to
be a U.S. citizen and the bearer of a currently valid U.S. passport;
- The abuser’s Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship;
- Department of State Form FS-240, Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of
the United States, relating to the abuser;
- The abuser’s Form I-551 Alien Registration Receipt Card, or other
proof given by USCIS as evidence of lawful permanent residence.
Pursuant to the “Instructions” section of the Form I-360, Petition
for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant, photocopies of the above
documents may be accepted as primary evidence.
If primary evidence is unavailable, the self-petitioner must present secondary
evidence. Any evidence submitted as secondary evidence should be evaluated
for authenticity and credibility. USCIS regulations at 8 CFR 204.1(g)(2)
provide detailed information concerning secondary supporting documentation
of a spousal relationship to a USC or LPR.
If a self-petitioner is unable to present primary evidence or secondary
evidence of the abuser’s status, the officer will attempt to electronically
verify the abuser’s citizenship or immigration status from information
contained in DHS computerized records. Other DHS records may also be reviewed
at the discretion of the adjudicating officer. It is ultimately, however,
the self-petitioner’s burden to establish the abuser’s U.S.
citizenship or immigration status. If USCIS is unable to identify a record
as relating to an abuser or the record does not establish the abuser’s
immigration or citizenship status, the self-petition will be adjudicated
based on the information submitted by the self-petitioner. See 8 CFR 204.1(g)(3).
(2) Loss of Immigration Status. On October 28, 2000, the Battered Immigrant
Women Protection Act of 2000 (BIWPA), Pub. L. 106-386, was enacted. The
BIWPA amended some of the self-petitioning provisions, including those
relating to status of the abuser.
Prior to the enactment of the BIWPA, an alien was ineligible to file a
self-petition as a battered spouse or child of a USC or LPR if the USC
or LPR spouse or parent lost his or her status prior to the date the self-petition
was properly filed or approved. The BIWPA amended the Act to preserve
self-petitioning eligibility for spouses and children of abusive USCs
or LPRs if the spouse or child can demonstrate that the abusive USC or
LPR lost his or her status during the two-year period immediately preceding
the filing of the self-petition for a reason that was “related to”
or “due to” an incident of domestic violence. This change
applies to all self-petitioners, including those who file under sections
204(a)(1)(A)(v) or 204(a)(1)(B)(iv) as self- petitioners living abroad.
This determination is based on the fact that sections 204(a)(1)(A)(v)
and 204(a)(1)(B)(iv) of the Act state that the claimant must be “eligible
to file a petition” under section 204(a)(1)(A)(iii) or (iv) of the
Act or section 204(a)(1)(B)(ii) or (iii) of the Act, respectively.
(A) Loss of Status Due to Death of the Abusive USC Spouse or Parent. The
spouse or child of a U.S. citizen who died within the two years immediately
preceding the filing of the self-petition may benefit from the self-petitioning
provisions. Section 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(II)(aa)(CC)(aaa) and 204(a)(1)(A)(iv)
of the INA. Note: This provision is only applicable to spouses or children
of U.S. citizens.
(B) Loss of Status Prior to Filing or Approval of the Form I-360. The spouse
or child of a USC or LPR who lost USC or LPR status may benefit from the
self-petitioning provisions provided the loss of status occurred within
the two years immediately preceding the filing of the self-petition, and
the loss of status was related to or due to an incident of domestic violence.
In other words, if the self-petitioner can demonstrate that the abuser’s
loss of status was related to or due to an incident of domestic violence,
and the self-petitioner files his or her self-petition within two years
of the loss of status, that self-petition should not be denied on the
grounds that the abuser is not a USC or LPR. Sections 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(II)(CC)(bbb)
and (iv); 204(a)(1)(B)(ii)(II)(CC)(aaa) and (iii) of the INA.
Whether the abuser’s loss of status is “related to” or
“due to” an incident of domestic
violence is a matter of evidentiary proof. In order for an act or conviction to be
considered sufficiently related to or due to an incident of domestic violence, the
evidence must establish:
- The circumstances surrounding the loss of status;
- The requisite causal relationship between the loss of status and the incident
of domestic violence; and
- The loss of status occurred within the two-year period immediately preceding
the filing of the self-petition.
When determining whether the alleged abusive spouse’s loss of status
is related to or due to an incident of domestic violence, the adjudicating
officer should consider the full history of the domestic violence in the
case. The credibility and probative value of the evidence submitted by
the self-petitioner is a determination left to the discretion of the adjudicating officer.
(C) Loss of Status after Filing or Approval of the Form I-360. Loss of
USC status by denaturalization, renunciation or other means, death of
a USC abuser, divorce from a USC abuser, or changes to a USC abuser’s
citizenship status after the filing of the self-petition shall not adversely
affect the approval of the self-petition, nor shall it affect the ability
of an approved self-petitioner to adjust status to that of an LPR. Similarly,
divorce from an LPR or loss of LPR status by an LPR abuser after the filing
of the self-petition shall not adversely affect the approval of the self-petition,
nor shall it affect the ability of an approved self-petitioner to adjust
status to that of an LPR. Sections 204(a)(1)(A)(vi) and 204(a)(1)(B)(v)(I)
of the INA.
(D) Effective Date. The provisions of the BIWPA affecting this eligibility
requirement apply to all self-petitions pending on or filed on or after
October 28, 2000.
6. The AFM Transmittal Memoranda button is revised by adding a new entry,
in numerical order, to read.