Congress created the U visa so that undocumented immigrants would not be afraid to call the police to report a crime. If you are the victim of a crime and cooperated with the police investigation, or cooperated by testifying in court, you should contact a lawyer to see if you are eligible for a U visa. Not all victims of crime qualify for a U visa. Only certain types of criminal activity are included in the law.
Applicants who apply for a U visa are required to submit a signed certification by the law-enforcement agency that investigated or prosecuted the criminal activity. Our firm has helped many people request this certification. U visa applicants must be able to show that they were helpful to the police or court and did not refuse to help in the investigation of the crime.
A U visa lets victims of crime who meet certain requirements stay in the United States. It is a temporary (nonimmigrant) status that includes employment authorization. Under certain circumstances, the status can be renewed. In some cases, people who have been in the United States in U nonimmigrant status for 3 years can apply for permanent residence (a green card).
U visa applicants or recipients may be eligible to include certain qualifying family members in their application. These family members may be in the United States or living in another country.
Applying for a Green Card based on U Nonimmigrant Status
After three years of living in the United States in U nonimmigrant status, you may be eligible to apply for a green card. The application requires several different types of evidence, so it's important to consult with a lawyer before applying. You may be required to attend an interview at a USCIS office as part of your application for permanent residence.
Qualifying Criminal Activity
“Qualifying criminal activity” is defined by statute. It is defined as being one or more activities that violate U.S. criminal law, including:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trader
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes
These crimes have technical definitions under the law. You should consult with an immigration lawyer before applying for a U visa.
If you are serious about getting legal assistance, a consultation is the best place to start. Spend up to a full hour with an immigration attorney to discuss the details of your case, get answers to your questions, work through complex issues and supporting documents and plan an immigration strategy for obtaining benefits.