If you are an immigrant who has been the victim of a crime, you may qualify for a U visa. The U visa was created in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.
Why the U visa was created
The purpose of the U visa was to encourage immigrants to report crimes to law enforcement. Reporting the crime, and continuing to cooperate with law enforcement, could mean protection and a path to citizenship.
The U visa was also designed to help law enforcement officers prosecute crime, while providing safety and protection to the crime victims.
What a U visa can do for you
There are many benefits to having a U visa. You receive lawful status for up to 4 years and are eligible to adjust your status to a legal permanent resident. You obtain derivative benefits for certain family members and obtain work authorization.
However, there are various requirements you must meet to qualify for a U visa. It may help to speak with an experienced immigration attorney before applying, to make sure you qualify and that all steps are correctly followed.
To potentially qualify for a U visa, you must:
- Be the victim of a qualifying criminal activity
- Have information on the criminal activity
- Have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse because of the criminal activity
What is a qualifying criminal activity?
The qualifying criminal activity must have occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws. There are many crimes that meet the definition of qualifying criminal activity. They are crimes typically directed toward immigrants.
Some qualifying crimes include domestic violence, extortion, murder, sexual assault and trafficking. However, there are many more.
Additionally, you must cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and be admissible for admission to the United States. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver.
Being an immigrant brings many challenges and being the victim of a crime can be devastating. A U visa can help you.