One of the most powerful tools a person can use to adjust their residency status in the U.S. is the so-called “U visa.” The U visa (which is short for “U nonimmigrant visa”) enables eligible persons to eventually convert their status to permanent resident (i.e., Green Card holder). However, U visas have an unusual set of requirements.
In this post, we will go over the various legal requirements which must be met so a person can acquire the status of U visa holder. Then, we will discuss the procedure involved in converting a person’s status from U visa holder to permanent resident.
Legal Requirements and Qualifying Crimes
U nonimmigrant visas allow undocumented persons to remain in the U.S. when they are victims of certain crimes. The U.S. government created this status in order to better crack down on criminals. U nonimmigrant visa holders work closely with law enforcement agencies to investigate and ultimately prosecute perpetrators of certain crimes. Hence, one of the requirements for the status of a Green Card holder is the pledge to actively assist U.S. law enforcement personnel.
In total, there are six requirements that must be met to acquire U visa status:
(1) The holder must be a victim of one of the qualifying crimes
(2) The holder must have suffered substantial harm as a consequence of the crime
(3) The holder must possess information about the crime that occurred
(4) The holder must be helpful in the investigation of the crime at every stage
(5) The crime itself must have occurred in the U.S. or violated existing U.S. law
(6) The holder must be admissible to the U.S. or, if inadmissible, apply for a waiver
The list of “qualifying crimes” is quite long. A few examples of the types of crimes appearing on the list are abduction, blackmail, domestic violence, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, murder, rape, torture, and prostitution.
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Adjustment Procedure: Helpfulness Certification and Other Steps
As mentioned, after a person acquires the U visa status, that person may eventually be able to convert this status to permanent residency in the U.S. However, the person must follow an established procedure in order to do so. One of the things a U visa holder must do is file a certification of helpfulness, or Form I-918, Supplement B. This document certifies that the person has been helpful and will continue to be helpful in the investigation of the underlying criminal activity.
In order to file for permanent residency, the U visa holder must maintain the status for three years. During this three-year period, the holder must continuously live within the boundaries of the U.S.
After this period, the holder is eligible to apply for a Green Card (using Form I-485). In addition to the normal Green Card paperwork, the U visa holder will also be required to submit several other types of documentation. The holder will need to submit a medical report, a birth certificate, copies of passports, a self-affidavit, evidence to demonstrate the fulfillment of the three-year occupancy requirement, and other documents as well.
Spouses, Children, Parents, and Siblings
Another important thing U visa holders should be aware of is the fact that certain family members may also be eligible for this status. Spouses, children, parents, and (minor) siblings of the U visa holder may obtain U visa status.
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Key Points of U Nonimmigrant Visas
U visa holder is a rather uncommon type of status for someone to hold. This isn’t a status a person can “seek out.” Instead, it’s simply a positive side effect that accompanies the unfortunate occurrence of a crime. However, this status is certainly something people should be aware of and something that should be utilized under the right circumstances.
One of the primary benefits of this status is that a person can use the status to overcome prior deportations. In fact, the status can even overcome a prior criminal act (depending on the nature of this act).
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The Likelihood Your U Visa Application Will Be Approved
Typically, an application is denied if the applicant was not a victim of a qualifying criminal activity or if there’s missing evidence. If you believe you meet the criteria and if you gave enough evidence in your application, it will likely be approved.
How an Immigration Attorney with Our Firm Can Help
Depending on your situation, an immigration attorney may be able to help. Our firm’s immigration attorneys provide a number of services, including helping their clients apply for and retain their residency.
Applying for Permanent Residency
If you’ve been a U visa holder for at least three years now, consider speaking with an immigration attorney from our firm about your green card eligibility. The attorney can help you apply for your permanent residency so you can begin enjoying the benefits that come with it.
Applying for a U Visa
You may be a victim of a crime and would like to apply for a U visa. In this case, an immigration lawyer from our firm can examine your situation and determine whether you’re eligible. If so, the lawyer will guide you through the process of applying for and acquiring your U visa.
If you want a U visa but you’re outside of the U.S., we will help you pursue your petition. If you are not admissible to the U.S., you may not be able to qualify for a U visa. However, you can speak with an immigration lawyer about your admissibility.
Regardless of the circumstances, our lawyer will understand the trauma you experienced and help you each step of the way toward permanent residency.
Protecting You Against Deportation
If you have a U visa, you’re protected from deportation. Even if you have a pending U visa application, you should still be protected, but this isn’t necessarily guaranteed.
Should you ever be under a threat of deportation, an immigration attorney from our firm can help protect you.
Our firm provides many other services as well, such as assisting with family petitions for residency, making appeals of immigration-related decisions, and naturalization-related services.
About Our Immigration Law Firm
Our team understands the confusion and anxiety that come with immigration law and residency status. Many members of our team have faced immigration-related issues themselves. We can empathize with your situation and will help you if you have any issues or concerns regarding your residency in the U.S.
During a strategic session with a member of our team, we will listen to your story and advise you about what to do to improve your situation. If you decide to hire one of our attorneys, they’ll help you understand immigration law and overcome any burdens you face.
Contact New Frontier Immigration Law for More Information
That was just an introduction to the issue of U visa status. To learn more or inquire about a strategic session with a member of our team, reach out to New Frontier Immigration Law today by calling us.