The U Visa – A Pathway to Residency for Certain Crime Victims and Their Family Members
For many undocumented immigrants in the United States, living in the shadows involves fearing the police due to the possibility that a police officer may call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to report them. As a result, immigrants that are victims of crime are afraid to report the crimes against them. Consequently, criminals are not punished and the crime goes unpunished.
In 2000, Congress decided to create and pass the U Visa to motivate immigrants to report crimes to the police without fear of being reported to ICE in order to reduce crime in their communities. An immigrant who is granted the U Visa as a principal applicant or as derivative will be granted legal status and a work permit for a period of four years. After three years of continuous physical presence in the US with the U Visa, the immigrant will be eligible to apply for legal residency.
How can you qualify?
To qualify for the U Visa, the immigrant must first prove the following:
- That you have been the victim of one of the eligible crimes.
- That you have suffered physical or mental abuse as a victim of the crime.
- The immigrant must have information about the crime (police report).
- Cooperate with the investigation.
- The crime must have occurred in the US, or it must have violated US laws.
The most common eligible U Visa crimes are domestic violence, assault with a weapon, and sexual assault. However, there are 28 crimes eligible for the U Visa.
What crimes qualify for the U Visa?
- 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*†
*Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.
†Also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above.
What is the first step to start the U Visa application?
- The first thing is to get the police report.
- Next, you must request the signature from the police department that took the police report for the U Certification. The police department checks to see if the crime is under the list of crimes that qualify for the U Visa and if you cooperated with the investigation.
- Upon obtaining the signature for the U Certification, you have 6 months to submit your application for the U Visa. It is very important to gather all the necessary documents to submit your application on time. We recommend that you speak with an immigration attorney.
If you would like to know if you qualify, don’t hesitate and call Franco Law Group. Our attorneys have experience submitting strong U Visa applications. With that said, for the month of November and December we are offering 25% off if you retain our office to request the U Certification if you have the police report. Call us today at 213.200.1505 to schedule your appointment.