U Visa Lawyer
Crime victims in the United States who lack lawful immigration status are in a difficult position: they can work with the police as part of the criminal investigation, which could ultimately have consequences for their own immigration case; or they can avoid the police and risk the crime against them going unpunished.
Recognizing this issue, the federal government adopted something known as the “U visa.” This type of visa is exclusively available to victims of crimes and could eventually provide you with a Green Card. An immigration attorney understands your legal rights and that you deserve the opportunity to stay in this country. Let a U visa lawyer advise you of your options.
Qualifying for a U Visa
Not every immigrant will qualify for the protection of a U visa. These visas are designed to provide protection for individuals in very specific situations, with the ultimate goal of encouraging immigrants to report crimes and work with the police. An attorney could help an applicant pursue this type of visa if they meet certain criteria.
Qualifying Criminal Activity
U visas are limited to the victims of specific, serious crimes. In fact, the federal government provides a comprehensive list of offenses that could result in a successful application. Some examples include:
In addition to these crimes, being a victim of someone who attempted or conspired to commit any of these offenses could also lead to eligibility for a U visa.
Victim of a Crime
It is not enough to have information about a crime that occurred in the United States. To qualify for a U visa, an applicant must also have experienced physical or mental harm as a result of being a victim of qualifying criminal activity. The crime must also have occurred in the United States or one of its territories to qualify.
In addition to being the victim of a crime, an applicant for a U visa must be able to provide law enforcement with information that could be useful in the investigation and prosecution of the crime’s perpetrator. This step requires more than just telling the police details of a criminal act—the applicant must be helpful to law enforcement and assist with the prosecution as needed.
The U Visa Application Process
When an applicant for a U visa is already located in the United States, the first step in the process involves filing a document known as Form I-918. Also referred to as a Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, this form provides the government with much of the information needed to determine eligibility. When an applicant is under the age of 16, parental consent may be required.
On top of the form, applicants also need to provide a statement that outlines their knowledge of the crime in question. The assistance of a U-visa attorney could be invaluable for preparing a statement that clearly demonstrates how an applicant could help law enforcement.
It is also worth noting that these visas do not last forever. The visa expires after four years, but there could be an opportunity for an extension. This is only necessary in cases where the applicant does not pursue a Green Card. After receiving a U visa, a legal professional can continue to help an immigrant on their path to citizenship.
A Knowledgeable Attorney Could Help With Your U Visa Application
If you have been a victim of crime while in the United States, you have the opportunity to seek justice while also protecting your immigration status. A U visa could not only protect you from removal but also provide you with a path toward citizenship. Contact a U visa lawyer right away to learn more.