Tips On How To File For The U Visa
Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, Congress established a humanitarian visa by which foreign nationals who are victims of crime could receive protected immigration status. Known as the U visa, it is designated and intended for alien victims who out of fear of immigration consequences (such as deportation), may fail to report crime to law enforcement. It is one of the government’s most progressive types of visas that recognize that undocumented and illegal aliens are often the most victimized class of individuals, and law enforcement is enhanced and strengthened when there is cooperation with and from immigrant communities.
What Are The General Requirements?
The process is by no means automatic, and not every victim of criminal activity will meet the criteria. In order to qualify for U status, the victim must demonstrate that he/she:
· Has suffered substantial physical and/or mental abuse as a result of the crime;
· Has information about the crime;
· Has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement;
· Is a victim of a crime that occurred in the US or that violated US laws;
· Demonstrate admissibility.
Does Being The Victim Of Any Type Of Crime Qualify?
No. Only certain types of criminal activity will be considered, and they largely pertain to those types of crimes in which domestic violence, sexual exploitation, or trafficking is often an element. Among some the qualifying crimes are Rape, Torture, Trafficking, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Abusive Sexual Contact, Prostitution, Sexual exploitation, Kidnapping, Involuntary Servitude, Witness Tampering, and Assault. Note that the foregoing is not an exclusive or exhaustive list, and that any potential applicant should consult USCIS or a qualified immigration attorney to evaluate whether the crime qualifies.
The Harm Must Be Substantial
It is important to distinguish nominal “victims” from those that truly suffered harm. Several factors will be examined by USCIS to determine whether the harm and abuse to the victim was substantial. Potential applicants should be able to describe, if applicable, the nature and severity of the injury; how long he/she suffered; and the duration of the harm and its effects, such as whether the victim’s appearance, physical well-being or mental health was impacted.
The applicant should seek to furnish as much corroborating documentation as possible. In addition to a detailed personal statement, applicants should consider, if applicable, whether there are any medical records and or reports available to substantiate the harm. Pictures as well as affidavits from others should also be considered.
Make Sure That Supplement B Is Signed And Certified
Verifiable Cooperation with law enforcement is a prerequisite to being granted U status.
U visas are less susceptible to fraudulent applications because in addition to requiring that the abuse be substantial, applicants must attach a signed certification from an authorized law enforcement official that the victim has been, is, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation and prosecution of the case. While the applicant completes and signs Form I-918, the law enforcement official signs Form I-918, Supplement B.
What are the Benefits of U Status?
If approved, the applicant will obtain a temporary non-immigrant status in the United States that will not only allow him/her to legally stay in the country but also apply for work authorization. Family members of those granted U status may also potentially apply for U derivative status. Perhaps more importantly, U status holders may apply for permanent residence after demonstrating 1) he/she has been continuously physically present for at least three years in U status, 2) he/she has not unreasonably refused to provide assistance to law enforcement since being granted the U visa, and 3) the certifying agency must determine that the individual’s continued presence in the US is justified, whether it be in the interests of family unity or the public interest.
We hope that you have enjoyed this article and learned at least one new thing or tip that you may not have known. To keep informed about the latest developments in immigration law, please subscribe to our blog feed by clicking on the “Subscribe To This Blog’s Feed” button on the right. It is important to understand that the above is only general information and not legal advice. The law is extremely fact and circumstance sensitive. For an individual legal analysis of your specific legal case, please complete the “Case Evaluation” box to the right of the screen to get in touch with one of our attorneys.