In the intricate world of immigration law, those standing at the crossroads of hope and fear are often individuals seeking a U visa. These brave souls, many of whom have faced considerable hardship or exploitation, see the U visa as a beacon of safety and opportunity. It’s more than just a legal document; it’s a lifeline, a promise of a brighter future. If you have been a victim of abuse, exploitation or criminal activity, a U visa attorney can help you take the first steps towards restoring your rights.
A U Visa is a nonimmigrant status for victims of crime who have endured mental or physical abuse and have been, or are willing to assist law enforcement authorities and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. It is designed to offer protection for undocumented crime victims while simultaneously aiding in the enforcement of U.S. laws. The U Visa, once granted, allows the victim to reside in the U.S. for up to four years with legal immigration status, with the opportunity to apply for a green card after three years of continuous presence and other stipulations. The U Visa also allows for derivative status for qualifying spouses and children.
The U visa covers a broad range of criminal activities that a victim might have suffered. Some examples of such crimes include but are not limited to, abduction, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, felonious assault, female genital mutilation, fraud in foreign labor contracting, hostage situations, human trafficking, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, prostitution, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, slave trade, stalking, torture, and other related crimes. It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and the crime must have occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws. The victim must also have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to the crime and be willing to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
A person who was not the direct victim of a crime may still be eligible for a U Visa if they can demonstrate that their presence in the United States is closely related to the qualifying criminal activity. For example, an undocumented immigrant who is the parent or child of someone who has been directly victimized by criminal activities such as human trafficking, domestic abuse, or sexual exploitation may be eligible for a U Visa.
You may be eligible for a U Visa if you:
The process of applying for a U visa involves several steps:
Victim’s Certification: The first step in the U visa application process is obtaining a law enforcement certification from the law enforcement agency that was involved in/has jurisdiction of this case that verifies the applicant’s involvement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. This is done by filling out Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification.
Note: This can be a lengthy, sometimes difficult step depending on your jurisdiction.
Application Submission: Next, the applicant must complete and submit Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, along with the certification obtained in the previous step.
Personal Statement: Along with the application, the victim must also provide a personal statement describing the criminal activity they experienced.
Evidence: In support of the personal statement, material evidence of the abuse suffered is critical in getting a U Visa approved such as: psychological evaluations, therapist notes/letters, images of physical injuries, sworn affidavits from witnesses/police, etc.
Waiver Application (if applicable): If the applicant is not admissible, they may additionally choose to apply for a waiver using Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.
Waiting for Decision: Once all necessary documents are submitted, the applicant must wait for USCIS to adjudicate their petition. The waiting period can be lengthy due to annual caps on U visa approvals.
Approval and U Visa Issuance: If the application is approved, the applicant will be granted a U visa, allowing them to live and work in the United States for up to four years. After three years, they may be eligible to apply for a green card.
Navigating through the complex world of immigration law can be daunting. Our experienced U Visa attorneys are here to guide you through every step of the journey:
We begin by providing a thorough evaluation of your situation to determine if you are eligible for a U visa.
Our team will help you gather all the necessary documents and evidence to support your application.
We will assist in preparing and obtaining the all-important Victim’s Certification, ensuring it clearly demonstrates your cooperation with law enforcement.
We will meticulously complete and submit Form I-918 for you and any other qualifying derivative, ensuring every detail is accurate to facilitate a smooth U Visa process.
Our attorneys will guide you in crafting a compelling personal statement detailing your experiences and the nature of the crime, and guide you on evidence gathering to support your statement.
In case you are not admissible, we will help you apply for a waiver using Form I-192.
We will handle all communication with the USCIS, ensuring that all inquiries and correspondences are promptly and accurately responded to.
Following the approval of your U visa, we will provide guidance on the next steps, including when and how to apply for a green card.
Our goal is to make this challenging process as smooth and stress-free as possible, offering you the peace of mind that your case is in capable hands.
Q1: How long does the U Visa application process usually take?
The U Visa application process can be quite lengthy, often taking several months or even years. This is due to the limited number of U visas that USCIS can issue each year, leading to a backlog of crime victim applications.
Q2: Can my family members also receive a U Visa?
Yes, when you apply for a U Visa, you can also include certain family members in your application. This includes your spouse and children, and in some cases, your parents and unmarried siblings under 18.
Q3: What happens if my U Visa application is denied?
If your U Visa application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. Our U Visa attorneys can assist you in understanding the reasons for the denial and advise on the potential success of an appeal.
Q4: Can I work in the U.S. with a U Visa?
Under a U Visa, you may obtain an Employment authorization document that authorizes you to work in the United States.
Q5: Can I travel out of the U.S. with a U Visa?
Yes, you can travel outside of the U.S. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that you must have a valid U Visa and passport to return. We recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney before making travel plans.
Please note that the information provided in this FAQ section is of a general nature and may not apply to specific cases. Always consult with a qualified immigration attorney for personalized advice.
In the complex world of immigration law, having a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney by your side can make all the difference. At Bashyam Global LLP, our immigration services are committed to helping you navigate through this process, ensuring every step is taken with precision and care. Don’t let the complexities of immigration regulations stand in the way of your U visa application. Reach out to us today to set up a consultation, and let us guide you through this challenging journey. Your peace of mind is our top priority.