U Visa: Benefits, Eligibility and FAQs for Criminal Victim

U Visa: Benefits, Eligibility and FAQs for Criminal Victim

U Visas or green cards, are visas set aside for nonimmigrant victims of certain crimes who have suffered or are suffering from mental or physical abuse. Victims of crime can qualify for a specific green card but must have U nonimmigrant status.

If you have been a victim of a crime, a U visa lawyer can help you.  The U visa lawyers of Chicago will review your situation and see if you are eligible for a U visa and help you through the process of attaining a U visa. Our U visa attorneys understand the complex emotions and trauma that comes with being a survivor of criminal activity and violence. We can walk with you every step of the way through your U visa application process.

What is a U Visa?

Victims of specified mental or physical abuse and can help United States law enforcement or government prosecute criminal activities may qualify for the U nonimmigrant visa. The U visa was created by Congress in October 2000. The visa was created to make it possible for victims of sex crimes such as the human trafficking, sexual assault, physical abuse, and other violent crimes to come forward to law enforcement authorities.

Oftentimes, those who are victims and survivors of such crimes do not feel safe coming forward to authorities for fear of deportation or detainment. Many such victims are usually undocumented immigrants and do not have legal immigrant status, making the fear of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seem unapproachable. Because of this, criminals who target undocumented immigrants often get away with their crimes. This leads to immigrant communities becoming subjected to crimes.

However, with the U nonimmigrant visa, the hope is that more of these victims can feel safe to approach law enforcement so justice can take place. With survivors coming forward to tell of the crimes that happened to them, the hope is that law enforcement’s ability to investigate and build a case against criminal activity will be better.

U Visa Eligibility: Who Qualifies for a U Visa?

To be eligible for a U Nonimmigrant Visa, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • You were or are a victim of criminal activities qualified by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Your victimization in a crime involved suffering significant physical or mental abuse
  • You can provide information about the criminal activity of which you were a victim. There are exceptions if you are under 16 years old where a close third party can inform about the crime on your behalf
  • You can help law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime, proven via a Law Enforcement Certification
  • The crime that happened to you occurred in the United States or violated U.S. law
  • You are admissible to the United States. If you are inadmissible, speak with your U visa lawyer about steps to take.

Qualifying Criminal Activities

If you have been involved in or victim of one of the following crimes, speak with your u visa lawyer about next steps to apply for a U visa. We will help you in the resources you need to start and continue your U visa application:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive sexual contact
  • Domestic violence
  • Extortion
  • False imprisonment
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Hostage
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Slave trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Unlawful criminal restraints
  • Other related crimes

Similar activity to the crimes listed above may qualify as crimes for U visa eligibility.  U visa lawyers will be able to assist in determining if you do qualify.

Certifications for U Visa Applicants

In order to apply for the U nonimmigrant visa, you will need a law enforcement certification. To complete this process, you will need to complete Form I-918B. The form confirms that that you are both a victim of a qualifying crime and are willing to corporate with an investigation and/or prosecution of that crime. The perpetrator does not need to be convicted of a crime for you to qualify for a U visa or complete the USCIS form. If you do qualify, you just need to prove that you are willing to and/or have been cooperative with United States investigations or prosecution. The form does need to be signed by a law enforcement agency member.

The most difficult part of filling out a law enforcement certification is getting the form signed by a law enforcement agency member. Depending on what your story is,

If you are wondering, “is there a U visa lawyer near me?” the lawyers at Scott D. Pollock and Associates can be available in person or over the phone to walk you through how to fill out your law enforcement certification. The law enforcement who signs your certificate varies between state, town, and district. Many law enforcement agencies will create hurdles in their policies that disallow you to qualify depending on location. Working with an experienced immigration attorney will help you navigate the potential barriers that could block you from attaining your U visa.

What Does the U Visa Provide Victims?

If approved, the U visa provides victims with several benefits including:

  • Temporary immigration status for qualifying family members
  • Temporary immigration status with work authorization
  • Possibility of lawful permanent residence status

The U visa is also a pathway to citizenship. Once your U visa application is accepted, then you are given lawful immigration status in the United States. Your temporary permanent residence allows 4 years of validity. After your third year as a U visa holder, you can speak with your U visa attorney about your green card eligibility. When you get to the point where you are ready to apply for your Legal Permanent Residency, speak with your U visa lawyer for next steps.

Spouses and Children of U Nonimmigrant Status

Family members of nonimmigrants who qualify for U visas may be eligible for visas – U-2 visas for spouses, U-3 for children, and U-4 for parents. 

How to Apply for a U Visa (Green Card)

To petition for a U nonimmigrant visa, you must fill out Form I-918, Petition for U nonimmigrant status. The supplement B portion of Form I-918 is for the authorized service to sign off, as discussed above. Again, an authorized official must sign this document stating that you have been, will be, or are of help to the United States government. You must be willing to aid in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. Your abuser does not have to be convicted in order for this form to be signed.

If you are outside of the United States, speak with a U visa attorney to pursue a petition.

U Visa Adjustment of Status

The first step to gaining permanent residency is to fill out the Form I-485 application. To qualify for an adjustment of status on U nonimmigrant status, certain requirements must be met:

  • You have filed Form I-485, the application required to register for permanent residence
  • You have been legally admitted into the United States U-1 nonimmigrant status
  • You have been present continually in the United States for at least three years since you were admitted as a U nonimmigrant.
  • You are not admissible under INA section 212(a)(3)(E)
  • Your United States presence is deemed good for public interest, family unity, and humanitarian standard

Inadmissibility

Those who have participated in events such as genocide, Nazi persecution, or any act of killing or torture will not be accepted as an admissible candidate. If you commit an act that would be considered inadmissible, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will immediately consider this. If there are inadmissibility issues, speak with your U visa attorney for options about filing Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.

U Visa Frequently Asked Questions

U Visa Cost 

The U visa non-immigration application is free through the USCIS.

U Visa Success Rate 

The U visa approval rate is 87 percent for principal petitioners, according the USICS. The main reasons why someone’s U visa application is denied is on the basis of missing evidence, inadmissibility, inadmissibility due to criminal activity, abandonment, non-qualifying criminal activity, and no signs of substantial harm.

U Visa Attorney Near Me

The law office of Scott D. Pollock and Associates is conveniently located in downtown Chicago, IL. We have proudly practiced immigration law for over 30 years. If you are not available to come into the office, prefer to not meet in person, or are in a different area of the country or world, we are available for a phone or video meeting.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney Today

At Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., we provide individuals, families, and employers the legal representation they need to navigate the process of obtaining nonimmigrant visas.

Our attorneys have over seven decades of combined experience in US immigration law. We’ve helped guide numerous clients through the complicated process of gaining U nonimmigrant visas and Green Cards in the U.S. Contact a member of our team today at 312.444.1940.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!