What Is a U Visa and Why Would You Need One?
Since 2000, the United States has provided U Visas to noncitizen individuals who have been a victim of a crime. The visa provides the opportunity to allow the individual to legally remain within the boundaries of the United States and obtain work authorization in exchange for their agreement to assisting law enforcement authorities in the investigation, and possible prosecution, of crimes and their perpetrators. Only victims of certain crimes qualify for U Nonimmigrant Status, but it may be available to any non-citizen victim of crimes involving domestic violence or other violence related crimes, such as incest, rape, domestic violence, trafficking, sexual assault, torture, prostitution, slave trading, abduction, involuntary servitude, unlawful criminal restraint, extortion, murder, felonious assault, perjury, conspiracy, witness tampering and many others. U Nonimmigrant Status may be available not only to the crime victim, but also to the victim’s qualifying relatives as well.
The federal government has strict immigration inadmissibility grounds that must not be violated. If the principal applicant or his or her family members have violated any of the inadmissibility grounds, they may need to file a waiver asking that the specific violations be set aside or excused . Inadmissibility grounds are often the factors involved in an individual’s inability to receive specific benefits such as obtaining a green card or entering into the United States.
These grounds include:
- Maintaining Unlawful Presence – This can include being within the boundaries of the United States without specific permission.
- Committing Specific Crimes
- Illegal Entry – Including entering the borders of the United States without specific permission
- Lying to Immigration Officials and the Court System
- Making False Claims – Including the claim of being a United States citizen for any reason
- Any Grounds Related to Security – Including terrorism
Besides being the victim of specific crimes, there are only eligibility requiments. An applicant will need to maintain every eligibility requirement. These include:
- You can claim suffering or injury of substantial mental or physical abuse on account of the crime committed against you
- You must have direct information concerning the specific criminal activity.
- You have received a specific certification from an individual representing a state, local or federal law enforcement agency.
- You have offered, will offer, or can offer helpful information that is important to the authorities participating in the investigation and prosecution of a specific criminal activity.
- The criminal activity you have been a victim of specifically violates United States law, or the federal laws that reside outside of the United States but will be prosecuted in federal court within the United States.
If you believe that you can help government agencies in their ability to investigate and prosecute a crime that you have been a victim of, it might be possible to apply and receive a U Visa. Your first step will involve obtaining the services of an experienced attorney that has handled applications involving U visa status.
If you have questions about whether or not a U Visa might be right for your situation, please contact us today.