Filling Out Form I-765V: Instructions for Abused Spouses With Temporary Visas

Specific instructions for abused spouses of nonimmigrant visa holders who are filling out the form to get a work permit.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

U.S. immigration law provides at least a partial remedy for foreign-nationals who are in the U.S. because their spouse has a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, but who are victims of battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of that spouse. Form I-765V was designed to let them apply for employment authorization (a work permit or EAD) and thus gain some independence in the United States; perhaps an independent source of income and somewhere to go during the day.

(This comes from the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), codified at Section 106 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.)

To qualify, however, they must hold visas in one of these categories:

  • A (diplomatic)
  • E-3 (Australian specialty occupation worker)
  • G (foreign government or international organization representative), or
  • H (includes H-1B specialty occupation worker, H-1C nurses, H-2A temporary agricultural worker, H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker, and H-3 trainee).

Also, the battery or extreme cruelty must have taken place in the United States.

For other resources on dealing with domestic violence, see Domestic Violence and Domestic Abuse.

Safety and Privacy Considerations for Victims

Be sure to consider the privacy of your computer, smartphone, or tablet when seeking help online or over the phone. Some victims might use the same device, network, or phone plan as the abuser, allowing the abuser to see the victim's search or call history or otherwise track their activity.

Also, many smart devices contain cameras or GPS tracking that can be used to locate and monitor a person's whereabouts. An abuser can even slip a small tracking device into a car, bag, pocket, or other belongings. Many cars now have apps that allow anyone listed as an owner or co-owner to track its location remotely.

If concerned about your privacy while searching online, several organizations provide assistance and resources, including National Domestic Violence Hotline and RAINN. Also check out our Resources for Victims of Crime.

Getting Form I-765V

For the form itself, go to the I-765V page of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

First, a few general rules for filling out USCIS forms. It's best to type the information into the form on your computer if you can. Otherwise, print it out and type or write with black ink. Also, in most cases on this form, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wants you to enter "None" or "N/A" (for "not applicable") if that's your answer, rather than leaving a space blank.

If you can't fit your answer into the space provided after a particular question, use Part 7 of the form.

Line-by-Line Instructions for Filling out Form I-765V

Here is specific guidance on what to enter in the various spaces on Form I-765V. This describes the 07/21/22 version, which was still in use in early 2024.

Part 1: Reason for Applying

Question 1: If this is your first work permit, under "I am applying for," check 1.a, "Initial permission to accept employment." If you've applied for a work permit in the past, but it was lost, stolen, or mutilated (but would still be valid), check 1.b, "Replacement." If you have a past work permit that is expiring soon, and you are still eligible for employment authorization, check box 1.c for "Renewal" and make a copy of your current work permit to send in your application packet.

Part 2: Information About You

Most of this is self-explanatory biographical information, starting with your name. However, we'll highlight some of the more confusing questions below.

Safe Mailing Address

This section, containing Questions 3 and 4, is your opportunity to have mail from USCIS sent to someplace other than where you're living, if you're concerned about an abuser seeing or opening your mail. (If that's not a problem, you can leave this blank.)

Physical Address

You are required to give your address here in Question 5, even if it won't be used for mailing purposes.

Question 6: You would have been given an A-number only if you applied for any immigration benefit once you arrived in the United States or if you were put into removal (deportation) proceedings. Look for the letter A followed by 8 or 9 digits on any correspondence you got from a U.S. immigration agency.

Question 7: It's entirely possible you don't have a USCIS Online Account Number. You would only have one if you'd filed certain types of applications with USCIS.

Question 8: If you have a valid Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration, enter it here. Otherwise enter "none." You can ask for a number in Questions 9 - 10.

Questions 11 – 16: Self-explanatory.

Information About Your Most Recently Filed Employment Authorization

Question 17: If you previously applied for a U.S. work permit, indicate this in Question 17. For Question 18.b, which asks "Which USCIS office?", find the name of the USCIS office that approved or denied your application—it should be on the Form I-797 notice you received. For "Date," use the date USCIS received your application (also on the I-797). Submit copies of all I-797 forms with your I-765V.

Information About Your Last Arrival in the United States

Question 19: Your place of last admission will be the airport where your plane most recently landed in the U.S. or where you were inspected by a U.S. border officer.

Question 20: Here, you must state the date of your most recent U.S. entry.

Question 21: This asks for your U.S. immigration status upon arrival. If you know the visa category letters and numbers, use those (such as A-2 or H-4). Otherwise, describe your category (such as "wife of diplomat" or "spouse of temporary worker").

Question 22a and b: If you entered the United States by plane or ship after April 2013, you can find your I-94 number online on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website. (You'll need your passport number.) If you came before that, or if you came across a land border, you might find a white I-94 card stapled in your passport. Always use the last I-94 number you received, if you have had more than one. The I-94 will tell you the date your status expires.

Question 22 c-f: You'll find all this information in the passport from your home country.

Question 23: If your status hasn't changed, this will be the same answer as you gave to Question 21.

Question 24: Your eligibility category is either (c)(27) if you're the abused spouse of an A nonimmigrant; (c)(28) if you're the abused spouse of an E-3 nonimmigrant; (c)(29) if you're the abused spouse of a G nonimmigrant; or (c)(30) if you're the abused spouse of an H nonimmigrant.

Part 4. Information About Your Spouse

Because your eligibility for a work permit depends on your relationship to a nonimmigrant spouse, the form asks a number of questions about that spouse. Don't worry if you aren't able to fill in every detail; the form specifically says to enter the information "if known." Enter as much as you can, however; if USCIS isn't able to identify who your spouse is and find them within its records, it will have to deny your application.

Part 5. Marriage Information

You'll need to fill this in and attach a copy of your marriage certificate, or other evidence showing that you have—or had, if you've since divorced—a qualifying relationship with your nonimmigrant spouse.

Part 6: Applicant's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature

Here, you'll supply contact information about yourself and also confirm that you understand what you're signing.

Part 7. Interpreter's Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

If your English isn't to a point where you can fill out a form like this yourself and you used an interpreter (professional or otherwise), that's fine, but that person will need to supply personal information here.

Part 8. Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, if Other Than the Applicant

If an attorney, paralegal, or someone else filled out this form for you, that person needs to fill in this section. (If you only had help from an interpreter, he or she needs to fill in this section as well.)

Part 9. Additional Information

This is a handy place in which to put extra information about questions within the application. However, it's not meant for lengthy explanations, such as of the abuse you suffered at the hands of your spouse. You will want to supply a separate statement detailing this, as well as other documentation of the abuse (such as copies of police statements, court records, and so on).

When You're Done Filling Out Form I-765V

See the USCIS instructions to Form I-797V for a full list of required documents (which include evidence of the abuse, photographs, and more) as well as instructions on submitting your application to USCIS.

You will not need to pay a filing fee in order to submit Form I-765V.

If USCIS approves your application, it will send you an EAD good for a two-year period and renewable for additional two-year periods, assuming you still meets the eligibility requirements. (When filing a renewal application, however, you don't need to submit proof of the abuse again.)

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