Question: I am married to a U.S. citizen. My marriage started falling apart one year after our wedding when my husband became physically and mentally abusive towards me. I don’t have a job, because my husband has always been the sole provider for our family. He pays for our living expenses. How much does it cost to apply for VAWA? If I cannot afford to pay any fees, can I still apply?
Answer: Yes, you can still apply for VAWA even if you do not have any income. To apply for a VAWA green card, you must file two main forms: Form I-360 and Form I-485. There is no fee required to file Form I-360. Currently, the fee to file Form I-485 is $1,225. But the fee for Form I-485 can be waived if you satisfy any of the following conditions:
- You can waive the Form I-485 filing fee if your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time of filing. The maximum income requirement depends on the number of people in your household. Click this link to view the chart and compare your household size with the poverty guidelines income amount to see if you qualify for the fee waiver.
- You can waive the Form I-485 filing fee if you or your spouse receives a means-tested government benefit. A means-tested benefit is a public benefit, including Medicaid, “Snap” or Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- You can also waive the Form I-485 filing fee if you are experiencing financial hardship, such as unemployment, eviction, or homelessness. You can prove this by providing evidence such as large medical expense bills, past due monthly bills, credit card collection letters, eviction notice, or a termination letter from your employer.
How do I determine who counts toward my household size and income?
You can count someone as part of your household size only if that person is: you, your spouse, your children, or any other dependents listed on your federal tax returns who physically reside with you.
What if all bills and letters only have my husband’s name on them? How else can I prove that I fall under any of the qualifying fee waiver categories?
You can write a statement explaining your situation with as much detail as possible, including the reasons why you cannot provide actual evidence. If you receive services from a homeless shelter, you can include a currently dated letter from the shelter stating that you receive services from them. It is always advisable to include an affidavit from a member in good standing in your community who knows you and can provide more insight into your situation.
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ImmiFree.Law is The Harrison Law Firm P.C.’s online platform to make the family immigration and naturalization process more efficient, accurate, and affordable. Baya Harrison, Esq. is an attorney licensed in New York, Florida, and California. Attorney Harrison has helped numerous individuals and families navigate the U.S. immigration process, specifically family-based petitions and naturalization.