The U.S. government has a special visa category for immigrants who are crime victims, which is known as the U visa. There are only 10,000 U visas issued every fiscal year, so fast action is essential if you find yourself in this category. Learn who is eligible for a U visa and what to expect when applying.
What is a U Visa?
Created in 2000, the U visa is a humanitarian visa intended to aid U.S. crime victims who are not lawful immigrants and who can provide assistance to the authorities regarding the crime.
Many immigrants are reluctant to report crimes out of a fear they will be deported. The U visa petition was developed to safeguard immigrants and increase security: If an immigrant helps the authorities solve a crime, the entire community is safer.
To be eligible for a U visa, you must have been the victim of a crime committed in the U.S. and suffered significant physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity. You must have information about the crime and commit to being helpful in the investigation.
Qualifying crimes for U visa applicants include rape, domestic violence, human trafficking, and felony assault.
What to Expect When Applying for a U Visa
Before you can apply for a U visa, you must report the crime and work with the authorities. Examples of ways to work with the authorities including calling 911, answering an officer’s questions, identifying a suspect, or testifying in court.
To apply for this type of visa, you first need what’s called a “certification of helpfulness” from the authorities. This certification verifies that you have cooperated with the investigation. Federal, state, and local authorities may issue the certification of helpfulness.
Once you have the certification of helpfulness, you can then complete a U visa application. The application asks for your personal information, immigration history, criminal history, and other matters. An immigration attorney can help you complete the application and attach relevant paperwork.
As part of the application, you will need to write your personal story of the crime and its aftermath. A strong personal statement discusses the crime, its impact on you (for instance, your injuries), and how you helped the authorities.
If you are filing for a U visa for yourself and other family members, you will need to complete the Supplement A form.
Once your application is complete, your attorney will file it.
If the cap has not been reached, your application can proceed. If there are already 10,000 U visa petitions, your claim will be placed on a waiting list. While you are on the waiting list or having your petition processed, you are eligible for a work permit.
If the U visa petition is granted, you and your family members can remain in the U.S. After three years of U visa status, you can request LPR (lawful permanent resident) status.
If you were the victim of a crime, don’t let your fears prevent you from seeking help. By taking action to report the crime and file for a U visa, you can protect yourself and your family from harm, protect your community from further actions, and get shelter in the U.S. Carman Fullerton, PLLC can assist you and your family members with the U visa filing process. To get help with your visa application, call 859-469-4880 or contact us today.