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How to Get a U Visa as a Crime Victim

 Posted on February 14, 2024 in Immigration

Carrollton immigration lawyerIf you have been the victim of a crime in the United States and cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution, you may be eligible for a U visa. The U visa provides temporary legal status and work eligibility for victims of certain qualifying crimes who assist officials. A Texas immigration lawyer can help review your situation with you and see if you are a potential candidate for a U visa.

What Crimes Qualify for a U Visa?

The category of crimes that qualify a victim for a U visa is broad. Some examples of criminal activity could include domestic violence, sexual assault, kidnapping, felonious assault, human trafficking, involuntary servitude, and others. The most essential requirement is that the crime violated U.S. laws and occurred in the United States or its territories.

The crime must also be one that law enforcement is actively investigating and prosecuting. Victims of crimes no longer under investigation generally do not qualify for the U visa. Ongoing cooperation increases your chances of approval.

U Visa Eligibility Requirements

To receive a U visa as a crime victim, you must meet several core eligibility criteria enforced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • You have endured abuse, either mental or physical, because of the criminal activity.
  • You have credible and reliable information about the qualifying crime.
  • You have actively assisted law enforcement or are likely to assist (e.g., because of young age or trauma).
  • The criminal activity violated U.S. laws.
  • The crime occurred in the U.S. or its territories or violated U.S. laws.

USCIS may waive some requirements in exceptional situations if you meet other qualifying conditions. For example, in certain human trafficking and domestic violence cases, there are exceptions if you were unable to cooperate with police because of trauma or your age.

How to Apply for U Nonimmigrant Status

Follow these key steps to apply for U nonimmigrant status as a victim of crime in the U.S.:

  1. Ask the official investigating your case to complete a U visa certification showing that you have cooperated with their investigation. This signed form is a mandatory piece of your application.
  2. Collect documents and evidence related to the crime, such as medical records, court orders, police reports, etc. These will support your claim.
  3. Complete Form I-918 on the USCIS website, including all supporting materials. The filing fee is currently $545.
  4. Submit fingerprints and have your photo taken at a USCIS Application Support Center.
  5. Await a written decision on your U visa application from USCIS, which often takes eight months to two years.

If approved, you will receive deferred action on deportation, authorization to work in the U.S., and the ability to apply for certain family members to join you. After three years with U nonimmigrant status, you can apply to adjust your status to become a lawful permanent resident.

Contact a Carrollton, TX Immigration Attorney

The process of applying for and receiving a U visa contains many legal intricacies. A Grand Prairie, TX immigration lawyer who specializes in visas for victims of crime can ensure your application is strong and help avoid common mistakes. Call John W. Lawit, LLC at 214-609-2242 to get started.

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