If you’re wondering what is a U Visa and what’s it for, this post is for you. The U Visa was created for those people who have been victims of crimes such as domestic violence or exploitation. It is designed to give them a chance to stay in the country as long as they’re helpful in the persecution of criminals or any (relevant) illegal activity. This visa also includes family members.
The U Visa was created based on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The program has been expanded to include human trafficking and other crimes like blackmailing, extortion, and stalking.
The main objective of the U Visa is to encourage immigrants to report crimes that they otherwise wouldn’t have reported and to keep them safe during the investigation. Although it was created with crimes of domestic abuse in mind, it has been expanded and today it also covers a wide range of crimes, including those related to the workplace.
What is the U Visa For?
Having U Visa status allows you to access these benefits:
- Being able to legally reside in the U.S. for up to 4 years.
- Authorization to work during that time without restrictions.
- It allows your immediate family members to live in the U.S. as long as they qualify.
- After 3 years, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residency and get a green card.
Requirements to Get a U Visa
There are a few things that are required from you before you can apply for a U Visa.
- You must have been the victim of a qualifying crime. That crime needs to be reported and fully investigated.
- You must have information concerning that crime, and that information has to be helpful.
- You must be willing to cooperate or have cooperated in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activities.
- You have to be able to prove that the crime you’re reporting took place in the U.S. or violated local, state or federal laws.
- You must be admissible to the United States. If that’s not the case, you may still be able to apply for a waiver.
If you meet these requirements, don’t hold off on consulting with your immigration lawyer so they can help you get your U Visa as quickly as possible.
What Happens After a U Visa is Approved?
After your application to get your U Visa is approved, you will receive the following documents:
- A U Visa Approval Notice.
- An I-765 Approval Notice.
- Employment Authorization for the U.S.
- I-192 Approval Notice.
After receiving these documents, which shouldn’t take longer than a month, you will be able to work and travel through the U.S. without restrictions. However, it’s not recommendable that you travel outside the country during the first three years. You can technically do it, but you’ll have to undergo consular processing and lots of questions.
Unfortunately, when it comes to public benefits, U Visa holders don’t have access to programs like Medicaid, SSI, and TANF. However, you may still be eligible for other programs.
It is also recommended that you obtain a social security card.
Adjustment of U Visa Status
As a U nonimmigrant, you may be eligible to adjust status and become a lawful permanent resident after three years of continuous presence within US borders. Keep in mind that you must have a valid U Resident status on the date you file the Form I-485, so don’t wait till the last hour to start the process.
You’ll be asked to present proof of different issues, such as evidence that you’ve been helpful in the investigation of the crime, a self-affidavit attesting three years of continuous presence, as well as many different documents.
To be in good company during the entire process and be able to ask your concerns at all times, don’t hold off and talk with the best immigration lawyer in Houston
What Crimes Qualify For a U Visa?
U.S. Immigration authorities have new guidelines for qualifying criminal activity that could make a person eligible to receive U visa status. It’s an exhaustive list of behaviors that includes some crimes like stalking or assaulting immigrants on the basis of their race, color, or national origin.
It doesn’t only cover violent crimes, but also crimes related to abuse, exploitation, and threatening
Here’s the full list:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Being Held Hostage
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Felonious Assault
- Obstruction of Justice
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Sexual Assault
Would you like to know more about under what circumstances you can apply for a U Visa or to get help in obtaining it? Don’t hold off and talk with the best immigration lawyer in Houston