Assistance with the nonimmigrant visa set aside for victims of crimes and their immediate family.
U visa cases are a special category of immigration cases in the United States designed to provide protection and legal immigration status to victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of those crimes. The U visa is intended to encourage victims to come forward and cooperate with authorities while providing them with legal status and relief from deportation. Here are key aspects of U visa cases:
To be eligible for a U visa, an individual must meet specific criteria:
1. Victim of Qualifying Crimes: The individual must be a victim of a qualifying criminal activity, including crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, kidnapping, and other serious offenses.
2. Substantial Harm: The victim must have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime.
3. Cooperation: The individual must be willing to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the investigation and prosecution of the criminal activity. This cooperation often involves providing information and assistance to law enforcement.
4. Certification: A law enforcement agency, such as a police department or prosecutor's office, must certify the victim's helpfulness or cooperation in the investigation or prosecution of the crime by signing a U visa certification form (Form I-918, Supplement B).
To apply for a U visa, individuals must submit Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, along with the required U visa certification from a law enforcement agency. They may also include eligible family members (spouse, children, parents, or unmarried siblings under 18) on their application.
Benefits of U Visa Status:
Legal Status: U visa recipients are granted legal nonimmigrant status in the United States, allowing them to live and work in the country temporarily.
Derivative Status: Eligible family members included in the U visa application can also receive U visa derivative status.
Work Authorization: U visa holders are eligible for employment authorization.
Access to Public Benefits: U visa holders may be eligible for certain public benefits and services.
Path to Permanent Residency: After holding U visa status for three years and meeting certain requirements, U visa holders may apply for lawful permanent residency (a green card).
Confidentiality and Protections:
The U visa program includes protections to maintain the confidentiality of crime victims and their family members. Victims are provided with legal protections to prevent their deportation, and they are encouraged to come forward and report crimes to law enforcement.
U visa cases can be complex and require coordination with law enforcement agencies. Victims of crime may be in vulnerable situations, and their safety and well-being are paramount. Legal assistance from an attorney experienced in immigration law and victim advocacy is essential to navigate the application process successfully and ensure that the victim's rights are protected throughout the U visa process.