U Visas: Non-Immigrant Victims Of Certain Crimes
U Visas or green cards, are visas set aside for nonimmigrant victims of certain crimes who have suffered or are suffering from mental or physical abuse. Victims of crime can qualify for a specific green card but must have U nonimmigrant status.
What is a U Visa?
The U visa was created by Congress in October 2000. It was established for victims of specified mental or physical crimes against the person, who have helped or will help United States law enforcement or government prosecute that rime or crimes. The visa was created to make it possible for victims of sex crimes such as the human trafficking, sexual assault, physical abuse, and other violent crimes to come forward to law enforcement authorities.
U Visa Eligibility: Who Qualifies for a U Visa?
To be eligible for a U Nonimmigrant Visa, you must meet the following qualifications:
- You were or are a victim of criminal activities qualified by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Your victimization in a crime involved suffering significant physical or mental abuse
- You can provide information about the criminal activity of which you were a victim. There are exceptions if you are under 16 years old where a close third party can inform about the crime on your behalf
- You can help law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime, proven via a Law Enforcement Certification
- The crime that happened to you occurred in the United States or violated U.S. law
- You are admissible to the United States. If you are inadmissible, speak with your U visa lawyer about steps to take.
Qualifying Criminal Activities
To qualify for a U Visa, you must have been a victim of one of the following crimes, or a similar offense:
- Abusive sexual contact
- Domestic violence
- False imprisonment
- Female genital mutilation
- Involuntary servitude
- Sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation
- Slave trade
- Unlawful criminal restraints
- Other related crimes
Similar activity to the crimes listed above may qualify as crimes for U visa eligibility. U visa lawyers will be able to assist in determining if you do qualify.
Certifications for U Visa Applicants
In order to apply for the U nonimmigrant visa, you will need a signed law enforcement certification, which confirms that you are both a victim of a qualifying crime and are willing to cooperate with an investigation and/or prosecution of that crime. The perpetrator does not need to be convicted of a crime for you to qualify for a U visa. If you do qualify, you just need to prove that you are willing to and/or have been cooperative with the associated investigation or prosecution.
The law enforcement person who signs your certificate varies between state, town, and district. Many law enforcement agencies will create hurdles in their policies that disallow you to qualify depending on location. Working with an experienced immigration attorney will help you navigate the potential barriers that could block you from attaining your U visa.
What Does the U Visa Provide Victims?
If approved, the U visa provides victims with several benefits including:
- Temporary immigration status for qualifying family members
- Temporary immigration status with work authorization
- Possibility of lawful permanent residence status
The U visa is also a pathway to citizenship. Once your U visa application is accepted, then you are given lawful immigration status in the United States. Your temporary permanent residence allows 4 years of validity. After your third year as a U visa holder, you can speak with your U visa attorney about your green card eligibility. When you get to the point where you are ready to apply for your Legal Permanent Residency, speak with your U visa lawyer for next steps.
Spouses and Children of U Nonimmigrant Status
Family members of nonimmigrants who qualify for U visas may be eligible for visas – U-2 visas for spouses, U-3 for children, and U-4 for parents.
U Visa Adjustment of Status
To qualify for an adjustment of status on U nonimmigrant status, certain requirements must be met:
- You have filed Form I-485, the application required to register for permanent residence
- You have been legally admitted into the United States U-1 nonimmigrant status
- You have been present continually in the United States for at least three years since you were admitted as a U nonimmigrant.
- You are not admissible under INA section 212(a)(3)(E)
- Your United States presence is deemed good for public interest, family unity, and humanitarian standard
Those who have been convicted of any serious crime, or participated in events such as genocide, Nazi persecution, or any act of killing or torture will not be accepted as an admissible candidate. If you commit an act that would be considered inadmissible, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will immediately consider this.
U Visa Success Rate
The U visa approval rate is 87% for principal petitioners, according the USICS. The main reasons why someone’s U visa application is denied is on the basis of missing evidence, inadmissibility, inadmissibility due to criminal activity, abandonment, non-qualifying criminal activity, and no signs of substantial harm.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney Today
Cella & Associates has been practicing immigration law since 1993. We’ve helped numerous clients with the complicated process of gaining U nonimmigrant visas and Green Cards in the U.S. To schedule a confidential, telephonic, Zoom, WhatsApp or in-person consultation, call us at (973)473-6889.