The purpose of the U-visa is to protect immigrants who report crimes. The U-visa can protect victims of domestic violence or other crimes from deportation, and can give them a legal pathway to citizenship.
There are also work related U-visas. Workers who are stuck in untenable, abusive situations may fear the loss of their lawful immigration status or fear that they will become a target for deportation because of employer retaliation. Fear of retaliation can make immigrant and noncitizen workers hesitant to report any criminal activity they experience or witness. Applying for a U-visa helps to protect workers and gives them the ability to report unlawful, or dangerous workplace activity to law enforcement agents.
The Benefits of Obtaining a U-visa:
- Successful applicants are given lawful immigration status for up to four years.
- Applicants will be given work authorization.
- Qualifying family members of applicants may receive certain derivative benefits.
- After three years, the applicant is eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence.
Who is eligible for a U-visa?
Workers must meet the following criteria to be eligible for a U-visa:
- The applicant is a victim of qualifying criminal activity and has knowledge and information about the crime that happened.
- The applicant has been subjected to severe mental or physical abuse.
- The applicant has aided or will aid law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of a crime.
- The crime or crimes have occurred in the U.S., or have violated local, state, or federal laws.
- The applicant is “admissible” to the US or eligible for a waiver.
How can someone get a U-visa?
To obtain a U-visa, an applicant, or a U-visa immigration attorney on behalf of the applicant, must complete the following steps:
- File Form I-918. This form is a Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status and lists biographical information about the applicant, their family, and their eligibility.
- File Form I-918, Supplement A. This form is called Evidence to Establish Derivative U Nonimmigrant Status. It is intended to be an optional, supplemental form for applicants who want to include qualifying family members in their case. Qualifying family members may include siblings, a spouse, parents, or children of the applicant. Qualifying family members that can be registered will depend on the applicant’s and the dependent’s age (typically an adult applicant can only include spouses and children under 21 in their application; while child applicants can include their parents and their siblings under 18).
- File Form I-918, Supplement B. This form is a mandatory form that is filled out by a government entity that has the legal authority to authorize U-visas. This form certifies that the applicant is a victim of a qualifying crime and meets the other eligibility requirements. Typically the police or local prosecuting office signs this form to signify to immigration that you were helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime against you.
- Supplemental Evidence. A skilled immigration attorney can help applicants craft a personal statement, providing details of the crimes they’ve experienced. Applicants should try to include any supporting accounts or evidence too, such as doctors’ reports, or police reports that can enhance their claim for a U-visa.
Have you or a loved one been a victim of a crime in the United States? A U-visa may be able to protect you. Please contact the knowledgeable team of immigration lawyers at Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. about applying for a U-visa. Together, we’ll fight for your rights and protect your American dream.