After living in the United States continuously for three years while holding a U-Visa, you can apply to change your status and receive a green card for permanent residency providing that you meet other requirements.
Our law firm understands your situation. As a result of criminal activity, you suffered mental or physical abuse. You’re assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crimes and you want to stay. New Frontier Immigration Law can guide you through the process and help you gain a green card.
What Is a U-Visa?
For victims of criminal activity who suffered mental or physical abuse as a result and are willing to assist law enforcement or the government in the investigation or prosecution of the crime or crimes, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers the U-Visa so you can temporarily remain in the country.
U-Visa holders also receive a work permit so they can support themselves and their families.
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How do You Qualify for a U-Visa?
To qualify for a U-Visa, you must be the victim of a qualifying crime such as rape, obstruction of justice, extortion, domestic violence, trafficking, kidnapping, assault, or witness tampering among several others resulting in you suffering mental or physical abuse.
In addition, a law enforcement officer must certify that:
- The crime took place in the United States
- You have information to share about the crime
- You are willing to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution
- You do not have a criminal background that would prevent you from receiving status
The USCIS will review your application to determine if you meet the requirements to receive a U-Visa.
What Is a Green Card?
A green card for permanent residency is a document of identification that allows you to live and work in the United States on a lawful permanent basis.
The USCIS issues green cards so you would have to apply for one through this agency.
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How Long Is a U-Visa Valid?
Your U-Visa and your work permit are valid for four years, at which point you would have to leave the country unless you receive an extension or receive approval for a green card.
If you are seeking a U-Visa, be aware that it could take up to two years to receive approval from the USCIS, although you can file a request to expedite your application.
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Does the U-Visa Lead to a Green Card?
The U-Visa can lead to a green card. All you have to do is apply to adjust your status to permanent residency with the USCIS Vermont Service Center after living in the United States for three years.
The process for approval of your green card can take one to two years.
What Are the Requirements to Get a Green Card?
If you hold a U-Visa, you must live continuously in the United States for three years to qualify for a green card. That means you can’t leave the country for more than 90 consecutive days or 180 days overall throughout the three-year period.
You must also be cooperative with law enforcement as they conduct an investigation into or prosecute the criminal activity that led to you receiving a U-Visa. And finally, USCIS will have to determine if your residence in the United States is on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or benefits the public interest.
What Are the Benefits of a Green Card?
Receiving a green card means you can continue living and working in the United States permanently and won’t face deportation, which is important if you fear violence or retaliation.
But it also means you have a path to citizenship in the future.
What If Your U-Visa Expires Before Getting a Green Card?
Your U-Visa will expire after four years, which means you will have to leave the country by the expiration date or risk being out of status.
You can file for an extension of your U-Visa using Form I-539 to remain in the country legally beyond the four-year time limit.
Learn More About How the U-Visa Leads to a Green Card Today
Our law firm will guide you through the visa and green card process and will provide regular updates on your case. We will help you file applications and other paperwork, even review them for you to ensure all the necessary information is present.
We believe those who do the right thing by assisting law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of crimes deserve to remain here in the United States so they can continue living their lives and adding to their community. We will work to help you receive permanent residency.
If you or someone you love holds a U-Visa and wants to apply for a green card, contact New Frontier Immigration Law to schedule a strategy session today.