Immigrants are, unfortunately, often victims of crimes. These victims of crimes are often valuable witnesses and can offer insight into convicting the criminal. However, they are sometimes reluctant to provide this information since they are scared of being deported. If you are an immigrant and have been a victim of a crime, either directly or indirectly, the U-Visa could help and protect you. Our immigration law firm can answer any questions and assist you in applying for a U Visa.
What is a U-Visa?
A U-Visa, also known as U nonimmigrant status or visa, is a visa explicitly reserved for non-citizens who are victims of a crime. In 2000, congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, which “provides for the protection of trafficking victims and the prosecution of traffickers within the United States.” If approved, U visa holders have legal status in the United States, can work in the United States, and even have a possible path to a green card and U.S. citizenship.
What are the requirements for a U-Visa?
To apply for a U-Visa, you need to file Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, and you must meet the following requirements;
You must have been a victim or indirect victim of a qualifying crime.
The crime must have occurred in the United States or directly affected the United States and violated U.S. laws.
You must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse.
You must have helpful information (proof and written statement) about this criminal activity that you can provide to both USCIS and authorities to help convict the person or persons who committed the crime.
Working with an immigration attorney with experience with immigrants who have been victims of a crime is beneficial. They can assist you, help you gather your evidence, and provide you with support in applying for your U-Visa.
How do I prove that I have been a victim of a crime?
Unfortunately, just saying that you are a victim is not enough proof. You must have suffered “substantial” physical injury or mental distress due to this crime. In your case, you must provide USCIS with medical records and affidavits (a written statement) to support your claim. Along with your written statement and medical records, you will want to include the following;
Photo of any injuries
Any proof that a crime was committed that resulted in your physical harm or mental distress.
Statements from social workers
What crimes qualify for a U-Visa?
There are currently 28 crimes under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. These crimes include;
Violent crimes: these violent crimes include: murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, robbery, felonious assault, torture, and stalking.
Crimes of exploitation: kidnapping, abduction, held hostage, forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, and false imprisonment.
Sexual crimes: rape, incest, sexual trafficking, sexual assault and abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, genital mutilation.
In addition, perjury, witness tampering, and withholding evidence may qualify under the act.
Can family members qualify for a U-Visa?
Yes, they can. Family members, including your spouse and children, may cover with the same U-Visa status. Family members accompanying the petitioner can obtain a U derivative visa under certain circumstances. The U principal visa holder must petition on behalf of qualifying family members.
Is a U-Visa also a path to obtaining a green card?
Yes, the U-Visa can be a path to obtaining your green card, as the U-visa is typically valid for up to four years. After three years, you are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency. The requirements for applying for a green card are as follows;
The applicant has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years with valid U nonimmigrant status.
The U-visa holder has not refused to assist law enforcement since receiving their U visa.
Working with an experienced immigration attorney who has worked with immigration and can help you apply for a green card is essential. Our immigration law firm works with clients in all 50 States.
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If you have any additional questions about U-Visa and to see if you qualify or are looking for immigration services, don’t hesitate to contact the Odunlami Law Firm at 973-993-1900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can help you will your immigration needs.
Areas of Immigration Law:
Naturalization (Citizenship) Application
Immigrant Relative Petitions
Fiancé Visa Applications
Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing
Criminal Consequences and Deportation Defense
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Application
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Green Card Renewals
Temporary Work Visas
Temporary Protected Status
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals