The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa which provides victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or the government in the investigation or prosecution of those crimes,with temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States for up to 4 years. Moreover, a person who has been granted a U visa may obtain permanent resident status (a “green card”) after being physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least 3 years in U visa status. U visas can be particularly helpful as most grounds of inadmissibility can be waived, and the U visa can be approved even for people who, for instance, entered the U.S. without permission or who have a previous removal order.
Only 10,000 U visas may be issued every fiscal year. Family members may also be included on the petition. Depending on the age of the principal U visa applicant, such family members may include spouses, children, unmarried sisters and brothers under 18, mothers, fathers, as well as stepparents and adoptive parents. An approved U visa petition will automatically grant the applicant work eligibility in the United States. An Employment Authorization Document will be included with all approved petitions, which can be shown to any employer to obtain a Social Security Number to start work legally.
As noted, you may apply for a U Visa if you have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to one of these (or similar) crimes:
- rape torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, hostage situations, peonage, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, blackmail, extortion, manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, perjury or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes.
Victims of one or more of these crimes must include information on how they have assisted/can assist government officials in learning more about the crime, such as investigation and prosecution of the persons that committed the crime. Victims must also be willing to talk to local law enforcement. The crime must have occurred in the United States or in a U.S. territory, or violated U.S. law.
As part of the application, a certification must be completed by a Federal, State or local law enforcement agency, such as a prosecutor or a Federal or State judge in charge of the investigation in which the person is the victim. Without this certification, the U visa petition cannot be submitted. However, a certification alone is not enough to establish eligibility as all facts around the petition will be considered. The certifying individual must be the head of the agency or a person designated to issue U nonimmigrant certifications. If at any point the victim stops to cooperate with law enforcement, the certification can be withdrawn.
Attorneys from Dyer Immigration Law Group can assist you in the process of applying for a U visa. Our attorneys will help review a victim’s eligibility for the U visa and can help advocate on behalf of the victim. For instance, victims of crimes who qualify for U visa may not fully report the type of crime or the details of the crime to police. The police may not speak the victim's language, or may not understand the impact that the crime had on the victim. Dyer Immigration attorneys can assist the victim by gathering the needed information and reports. We can reach out to law enforcement officials on behalf of our clients to request the required certification. Dyer Immigration attorneys may also help the victim tell the complete story to police. Police may not have taken the whole story and recorded it into the police report. Every fact counts for U visa applications.
For example, if a female victim was beaten up after leaving work by an unknown person, the police may say that the crime was simple assault, a minor misdemeanor crime that does not qualify for U visa. But, the police may not have asked these questions:
- Was the victim touched in a sexual way while being beaten?
- Was the victim hit below the waist on or the chest?
If yes, the crime is not a simple assault. It may have involved abusive sexual contact, or sexual assault, or sexual exploitation. All these crimes are listed on the U visa certification.
- Was the victim prevented from leaving before the crime?
- Was the victim prevented from running away during the crime?
- Was the victim moved from one place to another place during the crime?
If yes, the crime may be false imprisonment, kidnapping, abduction, or unlawful criminal restraint. All these crimes are listed on the U visa certification.
- Was the victim's loved ones threatened with future violence?
- Was the victim threatened to not report the crime?
- Was the victim's phone taken away, preventing the victim from calling police during the crime?
If yes, the crime may be witness tampering or obstruction of justice. All these crimes are listed on the U visa certification.
As you can see, asking the right questions may help law enforcement to describe many crimes that were mistakenly classified as a simple assault. Dyer Immigration attorneys can help evaluate the situation to help fully describe crimes so that the U visa application is as complete as possible. We will analyze the case to determine if a waiver is necessary for grounds of inadmissibility. Our attorneys can help victims put together comprehensive and compelling U visa applications so that victims can apply for the relief Congress provided for them.