Who qualifies for a U Visa?
The U.S. Immigration Code provides the U Visa as a pathway to citizenship for victims of certain types of crime. This pathway is intended to protect and reward people who have been criminally victimized, provided information about the crime to U.S. law enforcement, and are cooperating with the U.S. justice system. The types of crimes that qualify someone for a U Visa are listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Some examples include the following:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other related crimes
This list is non-exhaustive, meaning that someone who has been a victim crime that is similar in nature to those listed above might still qualify under the “other related crimes” provision.
What happens after I receive my U Visa?
Once you have had your U Visa for 3 years, you can self-petition for lawful permanent residency (this is commonly referred to as a “green card”). It is important to note, however, that you must not let your U Visa expire. These are the requirements for a U Visa recipient seeking lawful permanent residency:
- Physically presence in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least 3 years since receiving U Visa status;
- -Did not unreasonably refuse to provide help to law enforcement’s investigation or prosecution of the crime that was the basis of the U Visa;
- -Continued presence in the US is justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or it is in the public interest;
After filing an application for lawful permanent residence, U Visa recipients will have to wait for USCIS to make its decision. In the interim, USCIS will extend U visa status while the lawful permanent residency application is pending so that the U visa recipient can apply for or renew work permits. This process can take about 2 years.
If you think you may be qualify for a U Visa, Martinez Immigration can help you through the application process and understand all of your options. If you are already a U Visa recipient and have questions or think you need assistance, we can help you as well.