Visas for Victims of Crime
Before the year 2000, police had a difficult time prosecuting criminals who attacked illegal immigrants because the victims were afraid to come forward out of fear of being deported. This is, in part, why Congress created the U visa, which allows victims of crimes to apply for a visa so they can file charges and testify in court without fear of deportation or removal.
The U Visa was primarily created to protect victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, but anyone who has suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of a crime is eligible. If you are wondering if you are eligible for a U Visa, contact our immigration attorneys in Texas to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
What Crimes Are Covered by the U Visa
The U Visa covers a wide array of criminal activities, the majority of which involve physical or psychological harm to the victim. Even if you were not the victim of these crimes, you can still be eligible for a U Visa if you witnessed them are willing to aid in the prosecution of the perpetrators.
Crimes that qualify for U Visa protections include:
- Sexual Abuse
- Domestic Violence
- Murder and Homicide
- Conspiracy to Commit a Crime
You will need to file a Form I-918 for U Nonimmigrant status to apply for your U Visa. Members of your direct family will also be eligible for visa benefits under this protection, so do not worry that your application will jeopardize their status. It is strongly recommended that you speak to an attorney before applying for a U Visa to ensure you qualify for one.
You Don’t Have to Be a Victim
It is not unheard of for people to take advantage of legal immigrants because they believe their victims cannot go to the police. Do not let someone take advantage of you in this way. Not only are you protected by the law, but you may also even be eligible for a green card after you obtain a U Visa. Our attorneys can help you fight for the justice you deserve.
Congress has realized that domestic violence is a problem in the immigration setting. A spouse may be subject to domestic violence but be hesitant to report such crimes for fear of immigration consequences.
Many illegal aliens are commonly victimized by certain criminals who are aware of their legal status and take advantage of the fact that many illegal aliens won't report a crime for fear of deportation.
Congress has realized that domestic violence is a problem in the immigration setting. A spouse may be subject to domestic violence or emotional abuse but be hesitant to report such crimes for fear of immigration consequences. This scenario most often arises when the spouse is acting as the sponsor of the foreign individual. These types of abuse have resulted in special laws such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
These laws are designed to protect women, men and children from the aggressive acts of family members. Our firm is very proud to participate in assisting victims of domestic violence obtain lawful status in the United States in accordance with these laws.
When an applicant petitions for U nonimmigrant status, they have to fill out a certification of helpfulness in the form of a U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (Form I-918, Supplement B). You can obtain one of these forms from a certifying law enforcement agency.
This form denotes that the applicant has been, is willing to be, or is likely to be helpful in providing information regarding the investigation or prosecution of the crime. Certifying law enforcement agencies where a U visa application can be found include all State, Federal or local law enforcement agencies, judges, prosecutors, child protective services, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor.
The main requirement for obtaining a U-visa is that the person actively assists law enforcement during the investigation and prosecution of the guilty party. A U-visa will be valid for four years, after which time it can lead to permanent residency.
Some of the crimes that qualify for U-visa application include:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes (including attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of any of these crimes, or similar activity where the elements of the crime are very similar)
There are six requirements that must be met in order to qualify for a U-visa:
- The applicant was a victim of a qualifying crime
- The applicant suffered physical or mental abuse as a result of a qualifying crime
- The victim can provide information regarding the criminal activity
- The crime occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws
- The victim must aid and provide information during the investigation and prosecution of the crime
- Under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations, the applicant is admissible to the U.S. If they are not admissible, they may apply for a waiver (Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant)
After you have entered the US using your visa, you must maintain legal status. Legal status allows you to legally stay in the US until the expiration date on your I-94. When your I-94 expires, so does your legal status.