Form I-360 is a very versatile immigration form. Several classes of immigrants may file this form with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as part of their green card application process. This article introduces Form I-360, explains its purpose and who can file it, how to file it, and special considerations for VAWA petitioners to keep in mind.
Written by Jonathan Petts.
Updated November 1, 2022
Who Should File Immigration Form I-360?
Form I-360 is the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. This form applies to several groups of immigrants who have faced extraordinary circumstances. If you are a special immigrant, widow(er) of a U.S. citizen, abuse victim, or an Amerasian seeking a green card, it’s important to understand whether Form I-360 is right for you.
Widows and Widowers
If you are a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen spouse, you may be eligible to file Form I-360. First, you’ll need to prove that you and your spouse were not legally divorced or separated when they died. You’ll also need to file your immigrant petition within less than two years after their death. You must also not have remarried before filing your petition.
Spouses, Children, and Parents of an Abusive U.S. Citizen
If you are the battered spouse, child, or parent of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may want to file Form I-360. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), these victims of abuse or extreme cruelty may self-petition for a U.S. green card. If you are a VAWA self-petitioning parent, your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident status child must be 21 years or older. VAWA self-petitioners will need to prove their abusive relative’s U.S. immigration status. They’ll also need to provide supporting documents establishing their relationship with the abuser, such as marriage or birth certificates.
If you consider self-petitioning under VAWA, be cautious about your abusive relative’s access to your devices and documents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not alert them of your application, and you don’t have to disclose your application to them either. If you believe you need assistance, you should reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The Department of Homeland Security through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows some Amerasians to file a Form I-360 petition. Qualifying Amerasians are those born in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, or Thailand to U.S. citizen fathers sometime between December 31, 1950, and October 22, 1982.
USCIS also allows various special immigrants to petition for green cards. Special immigrants include the following:
NATO-6 or International organization employees and their family members
U.S. Armed Forces members
Religious ministers with prospective employment by a U.S. nonprofit religious organization
The Panama Canal company employees, Canal Zone government, or U.S. government in the Canal Zone
Licensed and practicing physicians in the United States, beginning in January 1978.
United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) broadcasters
Applicants for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. This category includes foreign-born juveniles who need legal protection due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment by their parents.
Foreign nationals from Afghanistan or Iraq who assisted the U.S. government with translation
Iraqi nationals who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq
Afghan nationals who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government or International Security Assistance Force (ISAD) in Afghanistan
What Is the Purpose of Immigration Form I-360?
The Form I-360 eligibility categories outlined above entitle petitioners to special treatment in the U.S. immigration legal system. As a Form I-360 petitioner, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review your application under different criteria than other green card applicants. Completing Form I-360 alerts the U.S. government about your special status and allows them to grant you protections and immigration benefits. On their website, you can review USCIS’s detailed instructions on completing Form I-360.
Special immigrants can receive government assistance and benefits that other U.S. green cardholders do not have. Benefits may include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Food Assistance Programs (FAP), state-funded resettlement programs, and other benefits. Special benefits will depend on the immigrant’s specific category and background. Special immigrants with EB4 visas will also gain access to U.S. healthcare.
How To Complete Immigration Form I-360
Form I-360 is 19 pages long and consists of 12 parts. Before you begin Form I-360, you’ll need to make sure you’re filling the most recent version of the form. You can find that on the USCIS website. You also need to determine whether you’re a self-petitioner or a beneficiary. Self-petitioners include widow(er) and VAWA self-petitioners. Beneficiaries are those like religious workers who have their employers complete the petition on their behalf.
Form I-360 has a filing fee of $435, payable by check or money order. Amerasians, special immigrant juveniles, VAWA petitioners, and Afghan and Iraqi nationals who worked with the U.S. government won’t need to pay the fee.
For Part 1, you’ll need to answer a few basic questions. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send notices to your home relating to this petition. If you are a VAWA self-petitioner or special immigrant juvenile who would prefer not to receive notices for safety reasons, you should skip to question 7. On question 7, you may provide a secure U.S. address where you’d prefer to receive updates. If you’d like text or email updates, you should attach the Form G-1145 eNotification form to your petition.
For Part 2, you’ll need to select your category. Next, Part 3 asks you to indicate for whom you are applying. If you are an employer filing for your beneficiary, you should provide their full name. To answer questions 8 to 15, you’ll need your passport, latest arrival date, and details about your current status.
Part 4 is for beneficiaries abroad. If you are a petitioner filing on behalf of a beneficiary, you should ask them to provide the name and location of their local U.S. consulate or embassy. The beneficiary must undergo consular processing to get their immigrant visa overseas.
In Part 5, you’ll need to provide the names of your (the self-petitioner’s or beneficiary’s) children. Indicating these names grants these children eligibility for green cards if USCIS approves the petition. However, each child will require a separate USCIS Form I-485 later.
Part 6 refers to Amerasian applicants. Here, Amerasian applicants will need to provide more details about their parents and their father’s military history. USCIS may request a notarized statement from the Amerasian’s father if possible.
Part 7 refers to self-petitioning widows and widowers. Here, widows and widowers must provide more details about their marriage and the U.S. citizen’s death. According to the USCIS policy handbook, USCIS usually rejects remarried applicants.
Part 8 is for special immigrant juveniles. Special immigrant juveniles must provide information about their neglectful or abusive U.S. citizen or green card-holding parent.
Part 9 is for special immigrant religious workers. Employers must answer questions about their organization and the intended immigrant beneficiary. Only nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status can complete the I-360 petition.
Part 10 is for VAWA self-petitioners. VAWA self-petitioners will need to provide details about their relationship with their abuser, including their address and time spent together.
Parts 11 and 12 will ask applicants to provide their signatures. Part 11 is for self-petitioners and Part 12 is for petitioners with beneficiaries.
If you feel confused or worried about any application questions for Form I-360, you should seek help from an immigration lawyer or legal aid nonprofit. Mistakes can lead to USCIS rejecting an application from a petitioner who needs protection.
Documentation Required When Completing Form I-360
To file Form I-360, you’ll need to provide several required documents to prove your special immigrant, widow or widower, Amerasian, or VAWA status. Each category requires specific supporting documents depending on your background. For more information, you can review U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) instructions for Form I-360. USCIS also offers a helpful documentation checklist for Form I-360.
Widows and Widowers
Widows and widowers will need to provide the following documentation:
Your marriage certificate
Your spouse’s death certificate
Proof of your deceased spouse’s U.S. citizenship
VAWA self-petitioners will need to provide the following with their Form I-360:
Proof of the abusive relative’s U.S. citizenship
Proof that you lived with the abuser for a substantial period. For this, you may use medical, rental, employment, and your children’s birth certificates.
Proof of your legal relationship with the abusive relative. These may include marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and birth certificates.
Proof of abuse. You may submit court documents, police reports, and medical reports.
Proof that your marriage was bona fide (or genuine)
If you are over 14, you’ll also need an affidavit of good moral character approved by your local police.
For Amerasian applicants, required documents may include:
Your birth certificate from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, or Thailand.
If a sponsor files your application, you’ll need proof that your sponsor is over 21.
Other documents establishing your relationship with your U.S. citizen father. These may include baptism records, civil records, photographs, and records of financial support from your father.
Form I-361, the “Affidavit of Financial Support and Intent to Petition for Legal Custody for Public Law 97-359 Amerasian.”
Marriage certificates between your parents, if they ever married.
Special Immigrant Juveniles
Special immigrant juveniles will need to submit the following documents with Form I-360:
Your birth certificate. Note that you must prove you are under 21 when filing.
Juvenile court-issued documents that establish you’re eligible for special immigrant juvenile status.
If you are in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) custody, you’ll need to provide consent copies.
If you are part of another Form I-360 category, you can find document submission guidelines on USCIS’s website.
Special Considerations for VAWA Filers
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows foreign nationals to access immigration benefits without relying on their abusers. Under VAWA, you may self-petition for a green card without your abuser’s sponsorship. The U.S. government accepts self-petitions to protect abuse victims from further exploitation. By completing Form I-360, you take the first step in letting the U.S. government know about your situation. Once they are aware, they can consider you for upgraded immigration status.
If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rejects your petition, you may file an appeal. They will send you a denial letter with guidance on appeals. If they reject your first petition, you may want to speak with an immigration lawyer about the next steps.
You do not need to remain married to your abuser when filing to be eligible. Although USCIS has not updated its rules on this, it must follow recent statutory changes. Your grounds for marriage termination don’t need to cite battery or cruelty explicitly.
Suppose your abusive spouse, parent, or child had already filed a pending or withdrawn Form I-130 petition on your behalf. In this case, you may transfer the priority date from your Form I-130 to your Form I-360, resulting in a shorter waiting time for a green card.
Note that VAWA does not solely apply to women. Victims of any gender may file Form I-360.