The U-visa is a visa for people who have been victims of crimes. An applicant must show that s/he:
- Has “suffered substantial physical or mental abuse” from having been the victim of a crime;
- Has first-hand knowledge of the criminal activity;
- “Has been helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful” in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and
- The crime violated the laws of the United States or a U.S. territory.
If approved, the U-visa is valid for four years, and after three, the applicant can apply for their lawful permanent residency.
U Visa Applicants Must Be Admissible to the United States
The most powerful thing about the U-visa is the waiver available to the applicant. On top of meeting the above criteria, applicants for the U-visa must be admissible to the United States. The public charge ground of inadmissibility is ‘automatically’ waived. All other grounds of inadmissibly are waivable, except for those found at INA §212(a)(3)(E), including participation in Nazi persecutions, involvement in genocide, and the commission of any acts of torture or extrajudicial killings.
Some of the commonly waived ground of inadmissibly, in the U-visa context, are the 3 and 10-year bars, the permanent bar, entry without inspection, present without inspection, alien smuggling (including bringing children to the United States without permission), and prior deportation orders.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the U-visa waiver is that any grounds of inadmissibly waived for the U-visa will also be ‘waived’ for lawful permanent residency.
How Does USCIS Decide Whether to Approve My Waiver Application?
To apply for a waiver of a ground of inadmissibility, you’ll file Form I-192; you can ask for a waiver of all applicable grounds of inadmissibility at one time. The waiver is discretionary, and an applicant must demonstrate why it is in the “public or national interest” that the waiver be granted. This generally means showing USCIS why you are a good person and why you deserve the waiver(s).
Highlight Positive Factors
To show why you deserve a waiver your evidence may include:
- Helpfulness to law enforcement;
- Ties to the community;
- Existence of United States citizen or lawful permanent resident family members;
- Stable employment;
- Testimony from friends and family as to why you are a valuable member of the community.
Immigration will weight all your positive attributes with any negative factors that you may have.
Explain Negative Factors
Negative factors may include the following:
- Extensive arrest history;
- Certain convictions;
- Having multiple grounds of inadmissibility.
If you have multiple, or serious criminal convictions, you’ll need to provide additional evidence of why you are a good person, or how you have been rehabilitated. Honesty is always the best policy, and if you have negative factors, you should work with an experienced immigration attorney to overcome these factors.
If you have been the victim of a crime and would like information on applying for the U-visa, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in U-visa and VAWA cases and complex waiver applications. Please feel free to call us at (510) 491-0291 to see how we can help!