An Overview of U-Visa

Depending on the circumstance, the word ‘victim’ could have a variety of meanings. When it comes to legal matters brought to court, the term ‘victim’ generally refers to a person who has suffered emotional or physical harm, economic loss, or property damage. The same is true for immigration law. Unfortunately, there are indeed circumstances where a foreign national suffers harm, loss, or damage. Part of the role of US immigration is to look into these cases.

Under the regulation of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, the U-Visa was initiated. It is a non-immigrant visa that is intended for victims of crimes and suffered serious physical or mental abuse while staying in the United States. Such crimes include abduction, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, felonious assault, hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, prostitution, sexual assault, trafficking, and other related crimes. It also includes the attempt, conspiracy, and direct involvement of any of the mentioned crimes.

These victims, regardless of nationality, must be willing to with government officials and law enforcement during the investigation of the criminal case. This legislation offers great help for the law enforcers to better serve the victims. For victims who are below 16 years old, there will be a need for you to provide information about the crimes with the help of your parents or legal guardian.

U-visa holders are given benefits which include legitimate status under the U-Visa category, work permit, derivative benefits for family members, and a possibility to apply for adjustment of status. The visa holder will have the opportunity to be granted legal permanent resident status. In most cases, the foreigner victim who might have arrived illegally in the United States may acquire permanent residency status and will not be deported back to his or her home country.

 To obtain this visa status, a foreign national must secure a U-Visa Certificate as proof of being a victim of one of the qualifying crimes. There should be a personal statement describing the details of the crime you are involved with. This certification serves as evidence of your cooperation during the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases. This document may be issued by one of the following government offices or personnel: Department of Human Services or Child Protective Services, Department of Labor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and police officers. It is recommended to get this certification with the help of your immigration lawyer.

The applicant for U-Visa may apply for a visa petition including his or her qualified family members. Foreign national applicants above 21 years old may petition his or her spouse and unmarried children aged 21 years old and below. On the other hand, minor applicants below 21 years old may file a petition including parents, unmarried siblings aged 18 years old and below, spouse, or unmarried children below 21 years old. 

In the U-Visa category, the applicant is admissible to the United States under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Those who are not admissible have the option to file a waiver of inadmissibility. This waiver can pardon fabricated claims related to U.S. crimes, American citizenship, and illegal entry to the United States. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Office (USCIS) has the authority to waive the ground of inadmissibility. The applicant is required to verify his or her willingness to practice discretion.

Once you are approved, you will obtain a lawful U Non-immigrant Status for four years. Moreover, you will be allowed to work for the same number of years. After three years of continuously residing in the United States, you will be qualified to apply for a green card and become a permanent resident. The applicant’s stay in the country must be justifiable with humanitarian grounds to ensure the safety of family and national interest.

There are relevant application forms that you need to fill-out and submit when you apply for U-visa. You need to prepare all necessary supporting documents for the visa application. For legal assistance, do not hesitate to contact Luis F. Hess PLLC Law Firm. Our experienced immigration lawyers will help you throughout the application of your U-Visa. We will help you start a new life in the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Call (281) 984-5294 today.