Prima Facie Determination means that the immigration agency has received an application for VAWA. We use the I-360 form which is a form that we use to look at case types, but that’s what we use for VAWA.
In a VAWA case, there are requirements to qualify or to pass the post office screening of all packages.
For a bona fide marriage, it must be proven that the applicant has suffered mistreatment or abuse in the relationship, and that person must also prove that they have good moral character.
Sometimes we have to submit a document from the State of Texas stating that the person has never been arrested, and after sending that form with the required evidence, someone in the State of Texas will send us the form, the immigration agency will review the packages and say that the person has submitted the minimum evidence required for a VAWA case.
This doesn’t mean that the case has already been reviewed, what they tell us is that there’s no decision in the case but the Prima Facie Determination only means that the applicant has submitted the required evidence.
Applicants living in Texas don’t have many benefits, a Prima Facie letter is good news because it means you have passed the first step of filing the case, but other than that, it does not come with many benefits.
When someone receives a Prima Facie Determination they can celebrate because the evidence that they have submitted in their application to immigration has been accepted in their case.
What Is The VAWA Program? & Waiting Times
VAWA is the Visa for people who have been victims of cruelty in a relationship and are asking immigration for protection, and adjustment of their immigration status without the help of their abuser.
Normally, 80 or 90 percent of the cases, we are applying for VAWA and permanent residency in the One-Step process.
In this process, we submit form I-360 and form I-485 which is the adjustment of status to permanent resident status, as long as someone is adjusting status.
It comes with eligibility to apply for a Work Permit that normally comes in about six to nine months after applying for permanent residency.
If we are doing a VAWA One-Step case which is the majority of cases, the process would be that we turn in the packet with all the forms, all the evidence, then, the receipts that have the case number come in, then, three months later the Prima Facie Determination comes in, and that just says you have turned in the required evidence but the case is still pending.
Six to nine months after applying for VAWA is when the Work Permit arrives.
In the State of Texas with that Work Permit, you can get a license and SSN (Social Security Number).
There is a percentage of cases where we do not file for adjustment of status to permanent resident at the same time as VAWA, and we usually do that when someone has a bar, has crimes, has multiple entries, has said they were a U.S. citizen, or there are complications in your story.
Certain people should not apply for permanent residency because it is risky, for them, we apply for VAWA first, get approved, and then, sometimes we can apply for permanent residency.
Those people do not qualify for a Work Permit when the case is pending, they will have to wait until their VAWA case is approved by immigration, and that can take anywhere from a year to two years.
Generally, it would be a year and a half wait just for the Work Permit.
If I Did Not Receive My Prima Facie Does That Mean My VAWA Was Denied?
In Texas, there are not many public benefits for these people, not even eligibility for a license.
In other States there’s a way to obtain public benefits, to obtain a license, for example, Prima Facie notice that the immigrant case is more solid, it has more benefits incorporated, but here in Texas there are few public benefits.
In Texas, it is still not possible to get a license until you obtain a Work Permit, which for those who are working (approximately 90 percent of the applicants) will receive the permit in six months, and the rest can wait a year and a half to obtain their Work Permit.
If I Received Prima Facie Can You Still Deny My Visa?
Yes, it is possible because this noice only tells us that the evidence has been turned over, but they have not reviewed the details of the case yet.
It is possible to receive a negative decision, but usually, in immigration if someone receives the Prima Facie determination and the officer is reviewing the case and decides that something is missing, or there is a letter from a witness that is not sufficient, they are not going to deny your case, what they are going to do is send a response requesting more evidence.
It’s a Request For Evidence or RFE, and that means that immigration is asking for more documents, more evidence, more information, and there is a period to respond to that notice, usually 30 days, but sometimes it can be up to 90 days to respond.
It’s very important to respond to these notices or responses in the time they are given because if not, immigration will deny the case.
If I Received Prima Facie Notice Can I Leave the Country?
Receiving the Prima Facie does not mean that you can travel or that you can get a license or a Work Permit, but it is good news because it means that you are on your way, but it does not mean anything else for an applicant, nothing will change until they obtain the Work Permit.
If someone wants to travel outside the US. you will need an Advance Parole, for most applicants, travelling outside the U.S. is not recommended until you have obtained your permanent residency.
It is understood that there are emergencies that may arise on the road, and each person who is in this situation of their pending case needs to speak with their attorney before making any trip.
If you are a client of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, you know that an important family member is ill, and you are going to have to or want to be able to visit that person within a month, that’s enough time, now would be the time to talk to us to find out if there is a way to get a leave of absence.
Does Prima Facie Have The Same Protection As VAWA?
There is a part of the law, 1367, that says that when someone has applied for VAWA they have mailed form I-360 to immigration, and immigration has received their package, it is prohibited from talking to the aggressor in that situation.
This means that they cannot share information but they also cannot accept information from the aggressor because we know that it is very common in a violent relationship that the aggressor uses threats of deportation by calling immigration to control their victim.
That’s why we have this protection in the law saying that when someone has applied for VAWA they are protected, and the abuser cannot talk to immigration about this person, cannot make reports, threats, or anything that comes to mind.
This protection begins at the time immigration receives the Prima Facie application, but the Prima Facie notice has nothing to do with that protection.
If I Have Not Received My Prima Facie Yet, Will I Be Denied VAWA?
It is very common for a VAWA applicant to not have official evidence, such as a police report, because it is not required, remember that it is not necessary to have made a police report to qualify for VAWA.
When someone has been in a violent relationship it is usually a secret, they don’t share that information with the public, sometimes they take pictures of bruises or have hidden evidence and that is helpful in a case.
We are very used to working with clients who have no evidence and come to our office very concerned about that evidence question, but we are creative in finding evidence on a case-by-case basis.
For example, we can start services with a psychologist and that person can write a letter of testimony after having several appointments with the victim, or we can deliver letters from their best friend who knew what they were going through.
If someone submits a case that does not have enough evidence, they will receive an RFE (Request For Evidence) notice requesting more information.
Should I Apply For VAWA If I Don’t Have Evidence?
From Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, our advice to all immigrants who are hesitating to start an immigration process due to lack of evidence, is not to hesitate, because in this firm we are creative professionals, we can find evidence and put together with it the best strategy for your case.
Part of our job is to find evidence to prove a case, fill out the forms, and submit the evidence and fees, those details are part of our most important job, the strategy, and the evidence because we are on your side in your case.
If you are in doubt or feel that it is not possible to adjust your immigration status, whatever situation you are going through, do not miss the opportunity to call us and find out in that first contact if we will be able to help you and start an immigration path that will change your life.
Should you have further questions about Prima Facie, your evidence, or your specific case, you may contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a brief 10-minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.