What Is a U Visa?
There are certain specific immigration options for individuals who have been victimized in one way or another. There are options for those who have been victimized in their country of origin. There are options for those that face a very real threat of victimization if sent back to their country of origin. The U nonimmigrant status (U Visa) is specifically for victims of certain crimes that are able to help investigations or prosecutions conducted by law enforcement or other government officials.
Overview of a U Visa
In October of 2000, Congress established the U nonimmigrant visa through passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. This important piece of legislation was put in place to help law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute crimes while also protecting crime victims who suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. These victims may experience reluctance in helping law enforcement officials in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity for a number of reasons. The establishment of the U visa was to help encourage victims to help government officials without living in fear of being deported.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which falls within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), decides on the eligibility of a person to obtain a U visa. Law enforcement does, however, play a crucial role in determining eligibility. Law enforcement is tasked with providing information to USCIS that will be used to determine if a person qualifies for a U visa. This means providing information as to whether the person:
- Is the victim of a qualifying criminal activity;
- Possesses valuable information regarding criminal activity; and
- Is, was, or may be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Qualifying criminal activity includes:
- Domestic violence
- False imprisonment
- Involuntary servitude
- Sexual assault
If the victim of the qualifying criminal activity is under 16 years of age or otherwise unable to provide the information due to disability, a parent, guardian, or another qualifying individual may provide the information on his or her behalf. The victim of the crime must submit a signed certification form law enforcement officials as evidence in support of the U nonimmigrant status petition to USCIS to qualify for the U visa.
A person granted a U visa may receive temporary immigration status as well as work authorization. Additionally, temporary immigration status may be available to qualifying family members of the victim. A U visa also makes lawful permanent resident status a possibility.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a crime and possesses information about the crime that may be valuable to law enforcement or government officials, you may qualify for a U visa. To explore your options, talk to us at Talamantes Immigration Law. We are here to help. Contact Talamantes Immigration Law Firm today.
Posted in: Immigration Law