U.S. immigration law allows foreign nationals who have been victims of some crimes to be granted U nonimmigrant status (U visa) and to get a Green Card to become a lawful permanent resident, even if they do not meet all other immigration qualifications.
U-Visas are granted for up to 4 years, and the visa holder can apply for legal permanent residence after 3 years if they comply with all requirements. To qualify for U-Visa you need to provide a “certificate of helpfulness” from a qualifying government agency and prove that you suffered mental or physical abuse by a U.S. perpetrator.
A U-Visa for a Victim of a Crime
A U-Visa gives law enforcement greater ability to protect victims of crimes and prosecute perpetrators. U-Visa for a Victim of a Crime is for victims of specific crimes who have suffered mentally or physically and have been helpful to law enforcement. The U-Visa has only been issued since 2009 to help law enforcement better investigate and prosecute certain crimes and to protect victims of crime.
U-Visa Applicant Qualifications
- While you are in the United States, you are the victim of a “qualifying criminal activity” by a US citizen that broke US laws
- You have suffered physical or mental abuse as a result of this criminal activity
- You have valuable information that will help the law enforcement investigation
- You help the law enforcement investigation
- You must be eligible to immigrate to the United States, or you must apply for a Waiver
To qualify for a U-Visa you must be a victim or witness of a serious crime or know about a crime that is going to be committed. Not every crime qualifies for a U-Visa. In general, crimes that qualify for a U-Visa include:
- Violent crimes: murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, robbery, felonious assault. domestic violence and stalking
- Enslavement crimes: criminal restraint, kidnapping, abduction, being held hostage, forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, indentured or debt servitude, and false imprisonment.
- Sexual crimes: rape, incest, sexual trafficking, sexual assault and abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, and female genital mutilation.
- Obstruction of justice crimes: perjury, witness tampering, withholding evidence.
- Fraud in foreign labor contracting
Family Member U-Visas
Family members of U-Visa applicants may also qualify for a U-Visa, including;
Applying for and receiving a “certification of helpfulness” from law enforcement must be done quickly and carefully. Undocumented immigrants should consult an immigration lawyer to find out if they qualify for a U Visa before they contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. If the application is denied, the applicant could be deported; an immigration attorney will know the best options to protect you and your family during your case.
If you believe you or a family member are eligible to apply for a U-Visa, contact the Immigration Simplified attorneys to evaluate your case and advise you on your immigration claim. Please contact our office or call us at (312) 883-9944.
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