The U visa is a very important way for victims of domestic violence and other crimes to legalize themselves and often their entire family. But little is known about it in the immigrant community.
Here answer some frequently asked questions about this very helpful visa:
What is the U visa?
The U visa is a legal status available to help many people who need status the most: victims of domestic violence, exploited workers, victims of sexual violence, street crimes or other criminal conduct.
Does it give applicants the right to work?
Yes. Persons approved for a U visa can obtain a work permit, a social security card and, if they want, a drivers license.
Do they get a green card?
Yes. After 3 years on a U visa, a person can apply for permanent residence.
Can their families get status too?
Yes. Spouses and children under 21 of persons approved for a U visa can also obtain a work permit, a social security card and, after 3 years, a green card.
What if the victim is a child?
If the child is undocumented, then the child, their parents and children under 21 can usually also get legal status, if the case is approved. If the child is a US citizen, often the child’s undocumented parents can obtain status too as parents of a crime victim.
What if the person has a criminal record or an order of deportation?
Even if the person has an order of deportation, a qualified crime victim can often get a U visa. The order of deportation can be excused. Even if they have a criminal record themselves, they can often get a waiver which allows them to obtain legal status, which would otherwise be impossible.
What are the requirements of the U visa?
Here are the requirements for approval of a U visa:
There must have been a criminal act committed in the U.S., no matter how long ago.
The crime must have violated Federal, State, or local law.
The person applying must have suffered physical or mental harm as a result. The harm can be emotional. It is not necessary that there be physical harm.
The person applying must possess information concerning the crime and have been helpful, are being helpful, or are likely to be helpful to the police, sheriff, district attorney or some other agency which investigated the crime.
How does one apply for this visa?
In order to qualify for the U visa, you or your representative must obtain a signature from the law enforcement authority responsible for investigation or prosecution of U crime. This can include the victims rights offices of the District Attorney or police, or even agencies like Child Protective Services, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor. Once this certification is obtained, an application is submitted to the Immigration Service
with a statement of the applicant, affidavits from others, records of the crime, and other supporting material. Usually within 6-8 months, the person obtains legal status.
For any questions about this important law, please call our office.