U non-immigrant visa status, or U Visa, is available for victims of certain crimes who assist law enforcement investigate or prosecute the offenders. This visa was created to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and other crimes. At Poarch Thompson Law, our experienced immigration attorneys have assisted victims of crimes secure to U visas and relieve their concerns about the process. Here are some answers to the most common questions about victim visas.
In order to be eligible for a victim visa, you must meet the following conditions:
Victim visas have very long processing times, even if you have already taken the step of speaking with the police and getting a signed I-918 Supplemental Form. Current processing times vary greatly and newly filed applications are estimated to take approximately ten years or more for the final approval.
Yes, you can still get a victim visa if you did not prosecute the offender of the crime you suffered, so long as your cooperation with the police aided their investigation.
The U non-immigrant status (U visa) wait period is very long because there is a cap on the number of visas given each year. There are only 10,000 visas available annually, and many more people apply for these visas each year.
You cannot qualify for a work authorization card based on your u visa until you receive deferred action. This may take many years to receive.
Your family members may qualify to apply for a U visa as well based on your victimization. Those who qualify will depend on your relationship to them and their age.
If you are under the age of 21, then your parents, unmarried siblings under the age of 21, your children, and your spouse may also apply. If you are over the age of 21, your spouse and children may apply.
U Non-immigrant status (U visa) is actually valid for four years. Once you apply for a green card based on your U non-immigrant Status, you are automatically granted an extension of your status. If your status is about to expire, you must apply to extend the status before it expires. Circumstances that may allow you to extend stats include but are not limited to:
An immigration lawyer can help you make the best argument as to why your status should be extended.
Generally, our office recommends U visa applicants do not depart the United States until permanent residency is approved. While you can apply for a victim visa from outside of the U.S. through consular processing, if you already have an application pending, then you have a high risk of not being able to reenter the United States. There’s always the chance that you are not allowed back into the U.S. or miss important communications or appointments with USCIS. Many factors need to be evaluated to assess whether you may leave the United States. You should speak with your immigration attorney to assess the risk you take by leaving the United States. Do not depart the United States or make plans to depart before speaking to your immigration attorney.
After you have had your U visa for three years, you may be able to apply for a green card. Any family members on your U visa may also need to apply at this time.
An alternative to U non-immigrant status is a VAWA self-petitioner application. This status is based on the Violence Against Women Act. If you were abused by a US citizen or lawful permanent relative you may qualify for this form of relief. You can do this without notifying the person who abused you.
T visas are for human trafficking visas and may be another alternative for you were trafficked in the United States. Which of these three options should you choose if you qualify for more than one? It’s complicated and depends on your circumstances. You will want to pick the application that gives you the strongest case, with the shortest wait time. Your family members, inadmissibility and ability to collect proof will help an experienced immigration attorney assist you to select your best options.
USCIS has resources for you if you’ve been a victim of a crime.
At Poarch Thompson Law, we care deeply about victims of criminal activity and can advise you on the best way for you to get a visa and other support you need. If you are considering one of these visas, reach out to us today. We can help you through the entire process, and ensure you are aware of all potential options of relief.