Just finished an interesting AAO appeal of a denied I-360 VAWA petition to the Vermont Service Center of USCIS.
The government denied our client's I-360 Self-Petition essentially based upon the testimony given by the abuser at the I-130 interview where he intentionally sabotaged the interview so that our client would not receive the immigration benefit and would in fact be ordered deported back to India, where the U.S. citizen abuser would have total control over our client
Our argument was based upon the fact that USCIS explicitly cited to and ultimately based their adverse determination upon the discrepant testimony provided by the USC abuser during the 2007 adjustment interview.
As such, this is a clear violation of the confidentiality provision contained in 8 U.S.C. § 1367(a)(1); IIRAIRA § 384(a)(1).
Furthermore, any breach of these confidentiality laws can be prosecuted under the same statute. “Anyone who willfully uses, publishes, or permits information to be disclosed in violation of this section . . . shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action and subject to a civil money penalty of not more that $5,000 for each violation.” 8 U.S.C. § 1367(c); IIRAIRA § 384(c).
Congress enacted this law and the associated penalties, specifically so that abusers could not use the immigration system as a weapon against domestic violence victims. When immigration officials take action based on information provided by the batterer, as is the case here, they violate the law and contravene the purposes behind VAWA.
The statute holds that CIS cannot deny a VAWA self-petition based on information provided solely by the batterer. See IIRAIRA § 384(a)(1).
In adjudicating our client's I-360 self-petition, she cannot be deemed inadmissible or deported based upon information from her batterer and CIS cannot deny a VAWA self-petition based upon information provided by her USC abuser . See 8 U.S.C. § 1367(a)(1).