Section 805(d) of VAWA 2005 amended the definition of adopted children to include an important exception for abused adopted children. Congress removed the two-year legal custody and the two-year residency requirement for adopted children who were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by their adoptive parent(s) or household family members. The USCIS issued a policy memorandum on July 14, 2014 that provides guidance to officers adjudicating I-360 self-petitions filed by these abused children. The guidance is incorporated in the Adjudicators Filed Manual at Chapter 21.14(d).
Adopted children who have been the victims of domestic abuse no longer have to remain in the abusive household for two years in order to seek relief. They may file an I-360 self petition along with the following evidence: (1) is the legally adopted child of a USC or LPR parent and the adoption was finalized before the child turned 16 (18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child) ; (2) resides or has resided with the adoptive parent; (3) has been battered or been subjected to extreme cruelty perpetrated by the parent; and (4) if age 14 or older, is a person of good moral character. The memo lists the type of recommended evidence that would establish all of the elements. Children who satisfy these requirements may file inside or outside the United States. Children who have already turned 21 may also still file for relief if the abuse was a central reason for the delay in filing.