The U Visa for Victims of Crime – Who is Eligible?

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The U nonimmigrant status is a nonimmigrant (temporary) status that allows non-citizen victims of crime to stay in the United States, obtain employment authorization, apply for lawful permanent resident status. The U visa is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. Immediate family members also qualify.

In 2000, the U.S. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The purpose of the law was to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The law also helps agencies to better serve victims of crimes.

There are six legal requirements for U nonimmigrant status. The applicant must meet all of these.

  • The applicant must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
  • The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of these criminal activities.
  • The applicant must have information concerning that criminal activity.
  • The applicant must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
  • The criminal activity occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
  • The applicant is admissible to the United States under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Those who are not admissible, may apply for a waiver.

The duration of the U nonimmigrant status is for up to four years. However, this period may be extended in certain situations. And after three years of continuous physical U nonimmigrant status in the United States, the U nonimmigrant may adjust status to obtain lawful permanent residence (Green Card).

To stay updated on current USCIS issues or for more information on the U Visa, please visit Central Florida’s full service immigration firm at www.OrlandoVisa.com, or call us at (407) 648-5742.

 

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