How the U Nonimmigrant Status Can Help Victims of Criminal Activity

July 24, 2023
Being a victim of a crime is traumatic enough, but it can be even more difficult when the victim is an immigrant. Many immigrants who are victims of crimes are afraid to come forward because they fear deportation or retribution from their attacker. However, the U nonimmigrant status (U visa) was created to give victims of crime who are immigrants a chance to stay in the United States and help with investigations and prosecutions.

In this blog post, we will explore the U visa and how it can help victims of criminal activity who have suffered mental or physical abuse. We will also explain the requirements for obtaining a U visa and outline the benefits of having one.

The U visa was created in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. It was designed to provide immigration protection for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse. The U visa allows victims to assist law enforcement agencies in the investigation or prosecution of a crime without fear of deportation. This encourages victims to come forward and report crimes, making our communities safer for everyone.

To qualify for a U visa, you must have been a victim of a qualifying crime, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of noncitizens, or other crimes. You must also have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. Additionally, you must be able to provide information that is helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. Finally, you must be admissible to the United States or be able to obtain a waiver for any disqualifying grounds.

If you meet these requirements, you can apply for a U visa by filing Form I-918 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If your application is approved, you will receive a U visa and be allowed to stay in the United States for up to four years. After three years, you may be eligible to apply for a green card.

Having a U visa can provide many benefits for victims of criminal activity. It allows them to stay in the United States and work legally, making it easier for them to support themselves and their families. It also provides protection from deportation and allows victims to travel outside the United States and return without fear of being barred from re-entry. Additionally, U visa holders may be eligible for certain public benefits, such as food stamps and housing assistance.

If you are an immigrant who has been a victim of a crime, the U visa may be able to help you. It provides a way for victims to stay in the United States and assist with investigations and prosecutions without fear of deportation. While there are certain requirements that must be met, the benefits of having a U visa are significant. If you think you may be eligible for a U visa, we encourage you to speak with an immigration attorney who can guide you through the application process and help you understand your options. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available to you.