Immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally may be hesitant to contact law enforcement officials due to a fear of deportation or other repercussions. Immigrants may not report crimes for which they are victims, of out of fear that their illegal immigration status will be revealed.
The U visa was created to protect victims of certain crimes, who have suffered mental or physical abuse, and who are willing to assist law enforcement in investigating or prosecuting the criminal activity of which they were victimized. It allows eligible individuals to remain in the United States for up to four years, with an option for an extension. Individuals who are granted a U visa status may be eligible to apply for permanent residence, also known as a Green Card if they meet certain requirements.
Who qualifies for a U visa?
You may be eligible for U visa if:
- You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity;
- You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity;
- You have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may report the information about the crime on your behalf;
- You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf;
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws; and
- You are admissible to the United States. (If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver).
What are the qualifying crimes for U visa?
USCIS enumerates the qualifying criminal activities for U visa application.
Those are: abduction, abusive sexual contact, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, female genital mutilation, felonious assault, fraud in foreign labor contracting, hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, prostitution, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, salve trade, stalking, torture, trafficking, witness tampering, unlawful criminal restraint, and other related crimes.
Would an applicant’s family members be included in the U visa application?
Derivative U visa eligibility is based on the principal applicant’s relationship to the qualifying family member. The qualifying family members of U visa applicants may be accompany or follow the applicant. If the applicant is under 21 years of age, the qualifying family members may include the victim’s spouse, children, parents, and unmarried siblings under the age of 18. If the applicant is 21 years of age or older, the applicant may petition on behalf of his/her spouse and children.
What benefit can you get if the U visa is granted?
The U visa holders and the qualifying relatives may be eligible for many benefits, including work authorization, access to public benefits such as health care and education, and protection from deportation.
Can the U visa holder apply for a Green Card?
The U visa holders and the qualifying relatives may be eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent residents after three years of possessing the U visa if certain requirements are met. The requirements are that you have been physically present in the United States for at least three years while in U nonimmigrant status and have not unreasonably refused to assist law enforcement since you received your U visa.
Knowing the steps involved in a process is essential for the successful completion of a U visa application. At Tanner Law Offices, LLC, you will find us compassionate and knowledgeable about the U visa process. Please contact our office at 717-731-8114 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.