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What is a “U Visa” in the United States?

Illegal immigrants sometimes find themselves victims of serious crimes within the United States. When this happens, they are sometimes afraid to approach law enforcement and assist them in solving the crime. It is because of this that the United States offers these victims a type of visa that protects them and they may hold the perpetrator of the crime responsible. This is called a “U-Visa.”

What is a U-Visa?

A “U-Visa” is available to victims of a crime who become seriously injured, mentally or physically, as a result of the crime. This is also available to their immediate family members. With this status, the individual is able to help law enforcement and government officials with an investigation of the crime in which they were involved. This allows them to assist with the arrest of the guilty party without fearing the future of their status within the country. A U-Visa can be given to an individual that is involved in cases surrounding domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

Only 10,000 U-Visas can be issued every year. While this is true, there is no limit for the amount that can be issued to immediate family members. This can include spouses, children, or other eligible family members. Those who maintain a U-Visa after three years of living in the United States are eligible to apply for Permanent Residence status within the country.

Am I Eligible?

In order to apply for a U-Visa, an applicant is required to meet six requirements. This includes:

  • Must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity
  • Must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse
  • Must be willing to provide information regarding the crime
  • Must assist in the investigation
  • The crime must have occurred in the United States or violated the country’s laws
  • The applicant is admissible to the United States under current law

Crimes that Qualify

An applicant must be a victim of a qualifying criminal activity in order to apply for the visa. Crimes that qualify for the visa may include:

  • Domestic violence
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Human trafficking
  • Female genital mutilation

Making Changes

When a person is issued a U-Visa, they have it for four years. However, there are circumstances under which it can be extended. This may be:

  • If it is requested by law enforcement
  • If needed for exceptional circumstances
  • If needed because of delays in consular processing
  • If it is automatically extended while filing for an adjustment of status

When a person has U-Visa status for three years, they are eligible to change their status. An Adjustment of Status lets those with a visa apply for Permanent Resident status. When eligible, certain items must be submitted to be considered for the adjustment. This can include:

  • Evidence of the U-Visa approval
  • A medical examination and vaccination record
  • Birth certificate
  • Copies of all passports
  • An affidavit attesting to three years of continuous physical presence in the country since being admitted the U-Visa
  • Evidence that proves at least three years of the continuous presence

Contact our Firm

Our firm understands how much is on the line when clients face matters related to immigration. If you are in need of experienced legal counsel for matters regarding immigration, please contact the Law Offices of Salvatore A. Falletta, LLC and we would be happy to provide you with assistance. Our firm is located in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.