U Visa – Visas for Victims of Crimes
Are you a victim of a crime?
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A U-Visa is a special type of immigration benefit available to people both in and out of the US. It provides a temporary legal status for victims and witnesses of certain qualifying crimes who have cooperated with a law enforcement agency or prosecuting agency (District or City Attorney). The victim or witness later needs to prove that they have suffered substantial physical or psychological harm related to the qualifying crime. If it is determined you are eligible for U-visa you may also include certain family members as derivatives.
Were you the victim of a crime?
If we can verify these two elements we have the right to apply for a certification of the I-918B form.
- You were the victim of a qualifying crime (For example, assault, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, etc.)
- You assisted the authorities in the investigation. The authorities are usually, the police department or the prosecutors.
Examples of ways that people can assist in an investigation can be as simple as calling the cops and telling them what happened. Help can also go further, such as showing up to testify in court.
What is the I-918B certification?
The I-918B certification proves that you were a victim of a qualifying crime and collaborated in the investigation. Generally the certification can be signed by an official designated by the police department or a prosecutor in charge of the criminal case.
Have you had any problems with immigration or criminal authorities in the past?
The U-Visa was created so that people from immigrant communities are not afraid to ask the authorities for help when they need it. For this reason, the U-Visa “forgives” almost all the indiscretions that the applicant has committed. This includes criminal records, crossing the border, old immigration cases and using public assistance. It is extremely important that you take into account that although the Visa-U “forgives” these indiscretions the applicant has to admit all the background information. If you do not admit the indiscretion in the form, you will not be forgiven and the U-Visa can be denied. Make sure you are completely honest with the lawyers to ensure the likelihood of obtaining a U-Visa.
Can “U visa” holders get a “green card”?
An immigrant who is granted a U visa may be eligible for a green card and receive permanent resident status once certain requirements have been met:
- The immigrant must have been physically present in the U.S. for an uninterrupted period of a minimum of three (3) years since the admission date allowing for the U visa;
- The immigrant must not have acted unreasonably in refusing to provide assistance to law enforcement once having received his U visa; and
- The certifying law enforcement agency involved must find that the immigrant’s uninterrupted presence in the U.S. is supported by humanitarian reasons that work to maintain a cohesive family unit, or is somehow within the national or public interest.
Your Qualifying Family Members May Receive Derivative U Visas
Certain family members may be eligible to become derivative U visa recipients if the principal petitioner’s application is approved. These include your:
- unmarried children under age 21
- parents (if principal petitioner is under age 21), and
- unmarried siblings under 18 years old (if principal petitioner is under age 21).
You can submit Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U Visa Recipient along with your own petition or after your U visa is approved. Any derivative relatives that you include must also be “admissible” to the U.S. (or apply for a waiver) and have good moral character. (The “public charge” ground of inadmissibility doesn’t apply to derivative family members, either.)
If you think you may be eligible for a U visa based on the above, you should start the application process as soon as possible. If you can provide plenty of details to aid law enforcement, you will improve your chances to receive a certification of helpfulness.
Not sure if you qualify? Call our office to schedule a free consultation with the best California immigration lawyers. We will do everything to try to achieve legal residency in the U.S. for you and your family.
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