Undocumented immigrants who have been the victims of certain crimes may be eligible to apply for a U Visa which, if granted, will result in lawful status and eventually the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residence, or a “green card”.
To qualify for a U Visa, an immigrant must first prove that she was the victim of one of the qualifying crimes enumerated in the applicable law, of which there are 28. This is typically accomplished by presenting the report that was created by the police department or district attorney’s office that investigated or prosecuted the crime. Second, the immigrant must prove that she suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been the victim of the crime perpetrated against her. Third, the immigrant must have information concerning the criminal activity that took place. Fourth, the immigrant must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. This step requires that the immigrant obtain a certification directly from the law enforcement agency or district attorney’s office that investigated or prosecuted the crime which certifies the immigrant’s cooperation. Fifth, the criminal activity must have occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws. Additionally, a U Visa applicant must prove that she is a person of good moral character. Indeed, an applicant who has been convicted of a crime will likely have to also apply for what is called a waiver as part of her U Visa application.
In addition to being able to apply for her own legalization, a U Visa applicant can include certain family members in her application as derivative beneficiaries. Specifically, U Visa applicants who are 21 years of age or older can include their spouses and children in their applications. Applicants who are under 21 years of age can include their spouses, children, parents and unmarried siblings under the age of 18. An immigrant who is granted a U Visa as a principal applicant or derivative beneficiary will receive lawful status and work authorization for a period of four years. However, after three years of continuous physical presence in the U.S. as a U Visa recipient, the immigrant will be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence, or a “green card”.
Immigrants who have been the victims of any crime should consult with an immigration attorney to determine if they are eligible to apply for the U Visa. Indeed, the U Visa application process requires very specific evidence that must be included in order to avoid having the application denied. The attorneys of the Franco Law Group are experienced in gathering the necessary U Visa evidence, as well as in preparing and filing the necessary application. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys to determine if you may be eligible to apply for the U Visa.