Victims of Crime Can Receive a Special U Visa
Citizens of other countries who are victims of certain crimes can apply for a special visa called the U nonimmigrant visa. This visa allows you to remain in the U.S. and apply for permanent residence. If you are a victim of a crime and have suffered mental or physical abuse, you may be eligible for a U visa (see qualifying crimes, below).
One deciding factor is whether or not you are helpful to law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The U visa was created to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes that occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws. You can apply for a U visa if you are currently living in the U.S. or if you are currently living outside the U.S.
To apply (petition) for a U nonimmigrant status, you must have an authorized law enforcement or government official certify the petition stating you were helpful, are currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case. You must also include a personal statement describing the criminal activity of which you were a victim. And you must share evidence to establish each eligibility requirement.
You may apply for a derivative U visa for certain family members, but your U visa petition must be approved before applying for a family member. The U.S. government limits the number of U visas each year to 10,000. However, there is no cap for family members deriving status from the principal applicant, such as spouses, children, or other eligible family members. If you apply for a U visa after the limit is met, you will be placed on a wait list.
Once you obtain a U visa, you may be eligible to apply for a green card. To begin the green card process, you must be physically present in the U.S. for at least three years while holding U visa. And, you must not unreasonably refuse to provide assistance to law enforcement as a U visa holder. U visa petitions can be complicated and require different forms for different purposes. There are many factors when applying for a U visa, so it is best to consult with an attorney. We are experienced immigration attorneys and can help simplify the process so you get the right visa.
Qualifying Crimes Include:
If you believe that you may qualify for a U visa, or a U visa based on a family member’s U visa, contact us today for a consultation..