U Crime Victims
The U nonimmigrant status is a nonimmigrant (temporary) status that allows non–citizen victims of crime to stay in the United States, obtain employment authorization, apply for lawful permanent resident status, and help certain family members obtain immigration status as well.
There are up to 10,000 U visas available each fiscal year (Oct. 1 – September 30). Although a U visa can eventually lead to permanent residency, it is initially granted for four years and allows the applicant to have employment authorization for those four years. After three years of the applicant remaining in U nonimmigrant status, he or she may be eligible to adjust status and get permanent residency (green card).
The purpose of granting U nonimmigrant status is to protect victims of certain crimes who have come forward, reported a crime, and aided in investigation and prosecution of that crime. It also furthers the humanitarian interest of protecting vulnerable victims of serious crimes by assisting domestic violence survivors and other crime survivors. The granting of U nonimmigrant status is also very helpful to law enforcement since it encourages cooperation and reporting of crimes.
Naturally, for immigrants who have no immigration status and who are victims of crimes, it seems illogical to call the police to report a crime. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (VTVPA 2000) enacted in October of 2000 was created in part to encourage immigrants to come forward and cooperate with law enforcement without fear of retaliation.U Nonimmigrant Status Eligibility Requirements
There are six basic eligibility requirements for U nonimmigrant status:
- The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of certain criminal activity;
- The applicant possesses information concerning that criminal activity;
- The applicant has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation of prosecution of the criminal activity;
- The applicant has certification from a federal, state, or local law enforcement authority certifying his or her helpfulness in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity;
- The criminal activity violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States; and
- The applicant must be admissible to the United States, or demonstrate eligibility for a public interest waiver of any inadmissibility factors.
Abduction, abusive sexual assault, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, female genital mutilation, perjury, felonious assault, hostage situation, incest, peonage, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, rape, murder, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, prostitution, sexual assault, slave trade, torture, trafficking, sexual exploitation, and unlawful criminal restraint, among others.How can a U Visa Immigration Lawyer Help?
When dealing with immigration matters it is important to have an experienced immigration attorney on your side to protect your interests and guide you through the complicated and intimidating process of applying for U nonimmigrant status. Especially in U visas cases, where an applicant may be dealing with the emotions of the crime suffered, it is of critical importance to retain the services of a qualified and experienced immigration attorney that will be guiding you every step of the way.
Austin, Texas immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm has experience assisting individuals in seeking U nonimmigrant status. We understand the sensitive nature of these types of cases and your comfort and privacy is of utmost priority to us.
In U visas cases, the applicant has the burden of proof. Often, applicants get only one chance to get the petition right. An immigration lawyer can help you submit the most persuasive and compelling U visa petition and give you the best chance of success. In addition, our immigration attorney assists applicants with the certification requirement (getting U visas certification signatures from desired federal, state, or local law enforcement authority).
It is important to understand that U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is available to applicants regardless of the immigration legal status of the abuser and regardless of who the abuser was. In domestic violence cases, it is not necessary for the victim to be married to the abuser to be eligible to apply for U nonimmigrant status. Further, even crimes that occurred many years ago can still help you qualify for U nonimmigrant status. In addition, most inadmissibility factors, such as (but not limited to) unlawful entry, unlawful presence, expedited removals, and general past immigration problems may be waived by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in U visa cases, therefore, removing most roadblocks involved with applying for this type of immigration benefit.
Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of The Lyttle Law Firm is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, and can communicate directly with clients and their family members in these languages, as well as understand documents in these languages.
Furthermore, because immigration law is a federal, and not state, matter, the Lyttle Law Firm can assist you even if you are not a resident of Texas. If you need a competent immigration attorney to handle an U nonimmigrant petition for yourself or a family member, contact the Lyttle Law Firm, and you will be able to speak to a qualified Austin immigration attorney to get the advice and assistance you need.