A U Visa Immigration Lawyer helps crime victims stay in the U.S. and obtain residency
If you are a crime victim, a U Visa immigration lawyer can help you stay in the United States. Eventually, you may be able to obtain a green card.
A U Visa is a special type of visa for victims of crimes who have helped law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of that crime. However, you must meet several very specific requirements to be eligible.
The United States Congress created the U Visa program in October 2000. Importantly, the program was enacted with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. This is a powerful tool that can help when you need it most.
What is a U Visa?
A U Visa is a type of Visa that allows victims of certain crimes committed in the United States to remain in the U.S. Eventually, you may apply for Lawful Permanent Residence. In addition, this status is also commonly called a “green card.” Remember, an experienced U Visa immigration lawyer will help guide you throughout this process.
Importantly, only certain types of crimes allow you to utilize the U Visa process. These may include serious and violent offenses, such as:
- Domestic Violence;
- Sexual Assault; and
Can a U Visa Immigration Lawyer explain the requirements for a U Visa?
Yes, a U Visa immigration lawyer can help you understand each requirement for obtaining a U Visa. Generally, the requirements for obtaining a U Visa include:
- You are the victim of a qualifying crime;
- The crime resulted in physical or emotional abuse;
- You possess credible and reliable information about the criminal activity;
- The crime occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws; and
- You have been, or are likely to be, helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
Therefore, you must meet several specific requirements before obtaining a U Visa. Compared to some other types of immigration petitions, these criteria are quite complex. As a result, you should consult with an experienced U Visa immigration lawyer for guidance.
What evidence will my U Visa Immigration Lawyer need?
The evidence required for a successful U Visa Application is extensive. Therefore, you must work closely with your U Visa immigration lawyer to ensure all evidence is collected.
Certification from Law Enforcement
First, you must show that you assisted police or prosecutors in their investigation of the crime committed against you. Here, you must obtain a specific Certification from the law enforcement agency or legal entity which handled your case. Importantly, the Certification must describe in detail how you aided in their investigation. Finally, the document must certify that the offense committed against you is one that will qualify you for a U Visa.
Interestingly, law enforcement agencies are not required to complete these Certifications. Instead, it is at their discretion to complete the Certification. Plus, it can still take months to obtain a completed Certification even after law enforcement agrees to cooperate. Most importantly, you cannot continue with your U Visa Application until you have this Certification.
Severe Physical or Mental Harm
Second, you must show that you suffered severe physical or mental harm as a result of the offense. This may include providing the following types of reports and evidence:
- Medical reports;
- Sworn testimony regarding any physical injuries; and/or
- Psychological report from a qualified mental health professional. This report may describe any less visible effects that may have resulted from the offense. Importantly, these effects may include anxiety, depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
As a result, your successful U Visa Application depends on working closely with your U Visa immigration lawyer to gather the required evidence. Choosing to tackle this immense task on your own can be quite challenging and confusing.
Do I have to make a Police Report?
Yes, in order to apply for a U Visa you must report the crime to the police. Without doing so, you will not be able to receive the necessary Certification described above.
Interestingly, there is no specific time limit in which you must complete your police report. However, the sooner you do so after the offense is committed, the more likely it is that you will able to provide police with the information they need to begin a thorough investigation.
A U Visa Immigration Lawyer can help your family as part of your U Visa Application.
Immediate family members, such as spouses, children, and parents (when the victim is a minor child) may also submit applications along with the primary victim-immigrant. Importantly, these family members do not have to have been victims in their own right. Instead, they can submit their applications solely based on their relationship to you. To learn whether your family members may quality, contact us for a U Visa immigration lawyer consultation!
You can receive a U Visa even if you are in the United States illegally.
Amazingly, you can receive a U Visa even if you entered the U.S. illegally. Here, you may submit a U Visa Application as long as you otherwise meet the requirements described above. However, you may still need to submit an additional application in order to forgive your immigration violation.
Can a U Visa Immigration Lawyer help me get a Green Card?
The short answer is yes! Once you and your family members have had your U Visas for three years, you may apply for a Green Card. However, you must show the following in order to qualify:
- That you have lived in the United States for three years with your U Visa;
- You have not unreasonably refused to continue to assist law enforcement in their investigation of the crime against you; and
- That you deserve the favorable exercise of USCIS’ discretion.
As you can see, this process can be complicated and time-consuming. Ensure you have the best chance to succeed by getting an experienced U Visa immigration lawyer on your side.
Can I get a Work Permit while waiting for my U Visa?
No, a pending U Visa Application alone is not enough to allow you to apply for a work permit. On the other hand, you may apply for Employment Authorization after your U Visa is approved. Unfortunately, you will not be able to do so while you wait unless you have other grounds to qualify.
Why is my U Visa Application taking so long?
Unfortunately, the wait time for a U Visa Approval is notoriously long in the United States. Currently, USCIS estimates that the wait time for a U Visa is about five years. In practice, it often takes much longer than that.
The U.S. government may only approve 10,000 U Visa applications per year. Because there are often more applicants than there are available visas, the wait list of U Visas grows longer and longer as time goes on.
In order to speed up the process, USCIS continues reviewing applications even when they have met the annual 10,000 visa quota. Therefore, USCIS may determine that you are “approvable.” At this point, USCIS will notify you that your application will be placed on the wait list for the next available U Visa.
Can I be deported after submitting my U Visa Application?
Yes, you can still be deported while your U Visa Application is pending. Unfortunately, you are not protected from being placed in immigration detention or from being deported from the U.S. Therefore, if you are deported while your application is processing and it is later approved, it may provide you with an invaluable option to return to the United States legally.
A U Visa Immigration Lawyer at Kitay Law Offices can provide assistance in Spanish!
At Kitay Law Offices, virtually our entire staff is bilingual in both English and Spanish. As a result, we can help you in your native language! Contact us for a U Visa immigration lawyer consultation! You can reach us online or by calling 888-KITAYLAW.