As a leading and full-service immigration law firm based in Tulsa, the immigration attorneys at Rivas & Associates field no shortage of questions which deal with thought provoking scenarios. Many of these have to do with U Visa eligibility.
The complex immigration law issue has roots dating back to 2000 when Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, which allows for the granting of a U non-immigrant visa to the victims of crime who in return cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation
Due to the complexities and sensitivity of these cases, Rivas & Associates emphasizes that victims of crimes should immediately consult with an experienced U Visa immigration attorney to better determine whether or not you can apply for a U Visa.
To better understand the background and requirements for attaining a U Visa, the attorneys of Rivas & Associates have provided the answers to some of the more frequently asked questions associated surrounding U Visa eligibility and the U Visa application process itself.
What is a U Visa?
As mentioned above, a U Visa is a non-immigrant visa reserved for direct or indirect victims of crimes who assist law enforcement. This type of a visa is meant to both protect and reward those who have either suffered mental or physical abuse from a qualifying criminal activity.
Those who acquire a U Visa have legal status in the U.S., receive a work permit (employment authorization), as well as also a potential path to a Green Card and U.S. citizenship.
What are the U Visa Eligibility Requirements?
- To qualify of a U Visa, an individual must meet the following four eligibility requirements. These are:
- The criminal activity must have been in violation of U.S. laws
- The individual much have information about the criminal activity
- The individual must have been helpful, is currently being helpful or will likely be helpful in the criminal investigation and prosecution of the crime
- The individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity
Who Qualifies as a Direct Victim of a Crime?
If you have experienced a direct or “proximate” harm which results in substantial physical or mental abuse due to certain criminal activities, you may qualify as a direct victim.
One example of a direct victim would be if you experienced physical or emotional abuse at the hands of your spouse. Another example might come from being victim of a robbery.
It is important to note that physical harm does not necessarily need to take place for someone to qualify as a direct victim. Crimes like solicitation and conspiracy such as attempted kidnapping would count as a qualifying criminal activity.
Who Qualifies as an Indirect Victim of a Crime?
Family members of crime victims often fall under of the category of being a indirect victim of a crime. There are a number of scenarios in which this can happen. One example would be if a indirect victim’s family member was murdered. Provided the indirect member is willing to assist with law enforcement officials in the criminal investigation or already have they very well might be eligible for U Visa status.
That said, the indirect victim must also show that they have suffered significant hard due to the crime and are admissible to the United States or eligible to receive a waiver. For example, if a noncitizen’s child was killed, the mother may have been traumatized by the loss and suffered significant emotional damage as a result. If she helped law enforcement with their investigation by offering information about her child (the victim) and events that were relevant to the crime, she would qualify as an indirect victim.
What is the U Visa Application Process?
Like many other immigration applications, the application for the U Visa can be extensive, complex and time consuming, but it is worth it if you have a valid claim for a U Visa.
The U Visa application process involves filling out Forms I-918 Petition for U Non-Immigrant Status and Supplement B, which provides proof of your cooperation with the criminal casre. Furthermore, the victim must submit a personal statement. This statement allows the victim to present their experience of substantial physical or mental abuse while in the US.
The filing of other forms may be necessary to meet applicable requirements. Once granted, the U visa is valid for four years; however, an extension to the visa is possible if certain special conditions are met, such as still being needed for the criminal investigation. Those who receive the U visa, if they meet all requirements, can apply and obtain permanent resident status in the US as well.
How Will Consulting with an Experienced U Visa Attorney Help My Cause?
The attorneys at Rivas & Associates are not only some of the most well-known immigration attorneys in the Tulsa area, but they are also some of the most decorated. Lorena Rivas has been named Super Lawyers Rising Star each of the past three years and is a highly visible and sought-after immigration law attorney.
Chances are, if you’ve gone through any processes related to immigration, you probably already know that it can be a stressful and time-consuming ordeal. It involves extensive paperwork that can be intimidating, especially if English isn’t your first language. Additionally, there are many complicating factors that can delay the immigration process or make it more difficult and expensive.
Having a skilled attorney on your side can make all the difference in your peace of mind at this time and your odds of a favorable outcome. Your immigration attorney will be able to explain your situation in a way you understand and give you advice based on their experience.
Contact Rivas & Associates today to set up a personal consultation with a knowledgeable U Visa attorney.