The U Visa (U visa) allows an undocumented immigrant who is the victim of a crime in the United States to assist U.S. authorities in bringing a criminal to justice while receiving the right to temporary protection status, preventing his deportation from the country.
In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed the Law to Protect Victims of Trafficking and Violence, to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to pursue criminals involved in human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. Lawmakers realized that the U visa program would be a vital tool to build the trust of immigrant communities and protect witnesses.
When a U visa process is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), its validity is up to four years. During this period, the person can live and work legally in the country. After three years, most U visa holders can apply for a green card and obtain legal permanent residency. A U visa can also cover the direct family members (spouses and, depending on the age and marital status, children, parents and siblings) of the victim of the crime.
HOW TO QUALIFY FOR THE U VISA
There are six requirements for u visa qualification:
- The applicant was the victim of a crime of qualified violence (see list of crimes below)
- The applicant suffered physical, emotional and mental abuse
- The victim can provide reliable information about the crime
- The crime occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. law
- The victim shall cooperate fully with the law and provide information during the investigation of the crime
- Under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations, the applicant is admissible in the U.S. (if they are not admissible, they may apply for a pardon)
The list of crimes covered is extensive and includes aggravated assault, kidnapping, blackmail and extortion, domestic violence, sexual assault, manslaughter and murder, prostitution, kidnapping and human trafficking. Other related crimes include the attempted, conspiracy or solicitation of any of these crimes or similar activity where the elements of the crime are very similar. However, these are just some crimes that qualify under a U visa.\
Even people with a criminal record or who have violated immigration laws may be eligible for a U. Even if an individual has entered the country illegally or has a criminal record, that makes it “inadmissible” to the United States. There may be a way forward with a request for forgiveness. The U visa process is one of the most complex cases for immigrants, so it is always advisable to consult a skilled and licensed U.S. immigration lawyer before entering a petition for this category.
At Gondim Law, we handle U visa processes and all other humanitarian visa and green card programs in the U.S. Schedule an initial consultation to assess your u visa possibilities with one of our immigration-licensed attorneys through the website: www.gondimlaw.com