U-visas are an important tool for many immigrant victims of crime as a way to help them obtain legal immigration status. For some, a U-visa can offer an opportunity to potentially pursue permanent residency or citizenship in the future. But what are U-visas, and how do you become eligible to obtain one?
What is a U-Visa?
A U-visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa issued to out of status immigrants who have either been the victim of a crime while inside the United States, or a witness to a crime. U-visas allow victims of a crime to remain in the United States while legal proceedings against the alleged criminal are ongoing. U-visas last for a maximum of four years, after which point a U-visa holder must apply for permanent residency or another applicable visa to legally remain in the U.S.
How Can You Obtain a U-Visa?
In order to obtain a U-visa, you must have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of a criminal act, and you must possess information concerning that criminal act. Law enforcement must also certify that the criminal act occurred, and that the victim is, has been, or is likely to be useful in investigating or prosecuting the crime. If you meet these criteria, you can apply for a U-visa through Form DS-160, which is the application for a nonimmigrant visa.
What Are the Benefits of U-Visas?
The biggest benefit to U-visas is that they grant legal status to someone who is currently out of status, allowing them to remain legally in the United States. They can also obtain work authorization to seek legal employment, allowing them to care for themselves and their families. Finally, they can use their time in the U.S. on a U-visa to apply for permanent residency, allowing them to obtain a green card and eventually become naturalized U.S. citizens.
What Should You Do?
If you are an immigrant in the United States and you have been the victim of a crime, or you were the witness to a crime, you should consider seeking a U-visa. They can help you to avoid removal proceedings, and give you the chance to build your life in the United States. However, to get through the process as successfully as possible, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling immigration law matters.
For more than 40 years, the Drucker Law Firm has been providing personal and quality legal services to individuals, universities, and corporations throughout the New York City and Tri-State area. We have represented three generations of clients in personal injury cases, as well as immigration and general litigation matters. If you have a legal issue related to personal injury law, please give us a call at (718) 458-1489 to schedule a consultation or visit our contact page.