Form I-360 Guide: Your Path to a Special Immigrant Visa

Form I-360, officially titled Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, is a document utilized by a specific group of immigrants to request classification from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The individuals who typically submit this form include Amerasians, widows or widowers of U.S. citizens, and a diverse range of special immigrants, which encompasses certain religious workers, special immigrant juveniles, and others eligible under the fourth preference category, EB-4. This form serves as a critical step in the process of applying for lawful permanent residency in the United States

The submission of Form I-360 is governed by strict eligibility criteria and requires the provision of substantial evidence to support the petitioner’s classification claim.The form, alongside detailed filing instructions, can be accessed through the official USCIS website. Petitioners must complete the form accurately,

providing all necessary information and attaching the appropriate evidence. Additionally, representatives such as attorneys or accredited individuals involved in the filing process are obliged to include their details and, if applicable, complete a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative.

Accurate and successful filing of Form I-360 is paramount, as it lays the groundwork for the petitioner’s journey towards obtaining a green card. It is essential for petitioners to understand the filing requirements for their specific classification, such as the correct address for submitting the petition, the name fields to be filled, and the proper attachment of Form G-28 when required. Comprehending these components ensures that the process proceeds smoothly and minimizes the risk of delays or denials due to errors in the application process.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for Form I-360, the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, encompasses a range of categories for non-citizens who are seeking lawful permanent residence in the United States. Below are the specific requirements based on distinct group classifications.

Victims of Abuse

Individuals who have suffered abuse and are the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may apply. This includes certain non-citizen widows and widowers of U.S. citizens and non-citizen parents of youths who have been abused by a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse.

Special Immigrant Juvenile

Youths who are present in the United States and have been subject to state juvenile court proceedings related to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis under state law may be eligible under this category. They must be unable to reunite with one or both parents due to one of these grounds.

Religious Workers

Workers who are coming to the United States to perform religious work in a full-time compensated position for, or at the request of, a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization may qualify.

Certain Afghan and Iraqi Nationals

This applies to Afghan or Iraqi nationals who have been employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan or Iraq and meet specific criteria.

International Broadcasters

Employees of the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or grantee organizations may be eligible. This category also includes reporters, writers, translators, broadcasters, or others engaged in such activities.

Application Process

The application process for Form I-360 involves several critical steps, each requiring careful attention to detail. Applicants must ensure all paperwork is accurately completed, appropriate documentation attached, fees paid, and biometric services completed when requested.

Form Filing

Applicants must fill out Form I-360 thoroughly, providing all requested information. It is crucial to sign and date the form to avoid automatic rejection. The form can be filed electronically or by mail, depending on the applicant’s preference and eligibility.

Supporting Documentation

Supporting documentation must substantiate the claims made in the I-360 petition. This includes proof of the applicant’s relationship to the U.S. citizen, if applying as a widow(er), or evidence of Amerasian status, etc. Each document should be translated into English if not already in that language.

Fee Payment

There is a filing fee for Form I-360 that varies based on the applicant’s category. Certain applicants, such as abused spouses under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), may be exempt from the fee. Payment methods include checks, money orders, or credit card payments using Form G-1450.

Biometrics Services

If USCIS requires biometrics, applicants will receive an appointment notice with details. Applicants must attend this appointment where fingerprints, photographs, and a signature will be collected. This step is essential for identity verification and background checks.

Adjudication Procedures

The adjudication process for Form I-360, a petition for various classes of immigrants, involves a comprehensive review to establish eligibility and ensure compliance with immigration laws.

Initial Evaluation

Upon submission, USCIS officers systematically evaluate each Form I-360. They confirm the basic eligibility criteria, which includes the applicant’s category—such as an Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant—and ensure all required documentation is submitted. This initial phase is vital as missing information can lead to processing delays or a denial.

Interview Requirements

For certain classifications such as the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ), USCIS officials may exercise their discretion to interview petitioners. The decision to interview mainly hinges on whether it is deemed necessary to resolve any ambiguities in the application or to assess the credibility of the provided information.

Background Checks

Background and security checks are an integral part of the adjudication process. These checks help to identify any grounds of inadmissibility, such as criminal history or prior immigration violations. They serve to ensure that those seeking status adjustment do not pose a risk to public safety or national security.

Decision Making Process

The decision-making process involves a thorough legal analysis by USCIS officers. They assess the petitioner’s eligibility, reviewing admissibility and credibility, among other factors. Officers must take into accounts all relevant laws and regulations before making a decision to approve or deny the Form I-360 petition.

Post-Decisions and Appeals

Following a decision on Form I-360, individuals have a path to challenge the outcome or understand the benefits derived from an approval. This section covers the critical steps and options available post-decision, focusing on approvals, denials, motions, and appeals.

Approval and Benefits

Upon approval of Form I-360, the petitioner is eligible for certain immigration benefits. This includes the potential to file for lawful permanent residency. The petitioner may pursue classification under categories such as an Amerasian, Widow(er), or a Special Immigrant, which covers abused spouses, children, or parents under VAWA.

Denial and Motions

If Form I-360 is denied, the petitioner has the option to file a motion. This motion can be to reopen the case due to new evidence or circumstances or to reconsider the decision based on claimed errors in the application’s original review.

Administrative Appeals

Petitioners may appeal certain USCIS decisions to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), or with regards to immigration matters, to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). An appeal must be filed within the designated time period, typically 30 days from the decision date, using Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

Judicial Review

Following the exhaustion of all administrative appeals, petitioners may seek judicial review of their case in federal court. However, it is a less common course of action due to its complexity and the requirement of having gone through all other available administrative channels.

Rights and Protections

The rights and protections afforded by Form I-360 encompass vital areas such as employment authorization, international travel, adjustment of immigration status, and benefits available to family members of the petitioner. These provisions are designed to create a stable environment for individuals as they navigate through the immigration process.

Work Authorization

Individuals who file Form I-360 and are pending a decision may apply for Employment Authorization by submitting Form I-765. If approved, they are granted the right to work in the United States. The employment authorization typically needs renewal, aligned with the conditions of the petitioner’s status.

Travel Documents

Petitioners may also be eligible to apply for Advance Parole, which allows them to leave and re-enter the U.S. while their petition is being processed. It is crucial to acquire this travel document to ensure re-entry since departure without it could result in the inability to return or a denial of their pending I-360 petition.

Adjustment of Status

Upon approval of Form I-360, petitioners may be situated to Adjust Status to lawful permanent residency (Green Card). This transition is contingent on visa availability and other eligibility criteria which must be met to ensure a successful change in status.

Family Member Benefits

Eligible family members of the principal petitioner might derive immigration benefits through Form I-360. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 could potentially obtain a derivative status, facilitating their legal stay and authorization to work in the United States.

Special Considerations

When filling out Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, applicants should be aware of specific conditions that could affect the processing of their petition. Attention to detail within these categories is important for a successful petition.

Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions

Applicants with disabilities may be eligible for exceptions to certain requirements when filing Form I-360. These exceptions often require a Medical Certification stating the nature and extent of the disability. It’s imperative that this documentation provides clear evidence of how the disability impacts the applicant’s ability to meet standard requirements.

Waivers for Grounds of Inadmissibility

Some applicants may be subject to grounds of inadmissibility which could potentially bar them from entering the United States. However, they may apply for Waivers of Inadmissibility under specific circumstances outlined by immigration law. These waivers typically necessitate a separate form and detailed supporting documents that demonstrate why the waiver should be granted.

  • Common Grounds for Inadmissibility Requiring Waivers:
    • Previous immigration violations
    • Certain criminal offenses
    • Health-related concerns
    • Security and related grounds
    • Public charge concerns

Each ground has its own set of criteria and processes.

Humanitarian Parole

Individuals outside the United States who face an emergent situation may seek Humanitarian Parole to enter the U.S temporarily. This provision is discretionary and often requires detailed evidence of the emergent nature of the situation and how parole into the U.S. can alleviate it.

  • Evidence May Include:
    • Medical documentation for health emergencies
    • Police reports for individuals in danger
    • Other relevant legal or governmental documents

For specific timelines, inquire about your I-360 processing time, as each case is individually assessed for informed decisions.