The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) may be an option for qualifying individuals who were victims or witnesses of certain crimes and aided law enforcement with the case. In general, those who receive this visa have played a significant role in the police investigation of a serious crime.
If you receive a U visa from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you will also qualify to apply for a Green Card and obtain legal status to live and work in the United States. Meanwhile, your children, spouse, and other family members may receive a derivative U visa. You may want to discuss your options with an immigration attorney to ensure you understand this process and how to apply.
What Is the Purpose of a U Visa?
U visas provide immigration relief and legal status for immigrants who aided law enforcement or government officials in prosecuting crimes. Generally, those who receive approval for this visa suffered physical or mental injuries because of the criminal activity in question, either as a victim or witness.
Congress approved the U nonimmigrant visa program in October 2000 as a part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA). This program was initially part of the Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act—a section of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. However, the U visa is not the only option for battered women, children, and parents, according to USCIS.
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Who Can Get a Nonimmigrant U Visa?
You may be eligible for a U visa if you meet the following requirements:
- You were the victim of a qualifying crime.
- You suffered physical or mental injuries as a result.
- You have information that can help the police investigate or prosecute the crime.
- The crime happened in the United States or violated local, state, or federal laws.
U visa applicants must either be admissible to the United States, or apply for a waiver using Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, and receive approval.
What If the Victim Is a Child?
If the victim/witness is under 16 or has a disability and cannot provide the information to law enforcement, a parent or guardian may step in. This would still allow them to qualify for a U visa if they meet the remaining requirements.
Can Family Members Get U Visas, Too?
Under some circumstances, certain qualifying family members can apply for a derivative U visa. This process will require the principal person to receive approval for their U visa, and then their spouse, children, and other dependents can file for a derivative U visa.
The rules for navigating this process are complex. As a result, many people choose to work with an immigration attorney to ensure they file the correct forms, submit the necessary immigration, and ensure their families also receive legal status.
What Crimes May Qualify Me for a U Visa?
Most U visa recipients are victims of a serious crime, although some witness these crimes. In general, almost any crime that could cause significant harm to someone should qualify. Some other types of crime, such as fraud, also meet the requirements.
While there is a long list of crimes that can meet the criteria, some of the most common include:
- Domestic violence
- Obstruction of justice
- Sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation
An immigration lawyer familiar with U visas will be able to assess your circumstances to determine if you qualify for one. They can also handle the application process for you, including requesting derivative U visas for your family.
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Working with Our Attorneys on Your Immigration Relief Case
If you hire a lawyer from our firm to help you fight immigration concerns or issues, we will provide compassionate, comprehensive legal services to your family. For example, our immigration lawyers will:
- Assess your circumstances
- Explain your legal options
- Walk you through the process to seek a better outcome for you and your family
- Address your questions and concerns
- Represent you in immigration court proceedings, as necessary
- Fight arrest, detainment, and removal
Our immigration law firm offers strategic sessions where you can speak with our team, asking questions about U visas or other options for gaining legal status to live and work in the United States.
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Discuss Your Options with an Attorney from New Frontier Immigration Law
Our team at New Frontier Immigration Law will schedule a strategy session with you so you can learn more about U visas and other options for immigration relief based on your unique situation. Our immigration professionals provide compassionate and caring support for immigrants because many of us have been where you are today. We may be able to help you and your family fight removal, reunite, and gain legal status.
Call today for your strategy session with one of our team members.
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