If you have been the victim of a crime involving physical or mental abuse, you should know the U Visa and how it may assist you with your position in the United States.
This is one method of studying for your case, but there are others. Consult our immigration visa lawyer at Andres Mejer Law to see what American visas you could be eligible for in the United States. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us so that we can give you detailed advice based on how much a U Visa cost.
What is a U Visa?
The U Visa is a non-immigrant visa given to victims of physical or mental abuse crimes. This bill aims to enhance law enforcement authorities in the fight against violence, abuse, aggressiveness, and other offenses.
The United States Congress developed the U Visa in 2000 to assist victims of crime and encourage them to assist official authorities in investigating the crime without fear of being deported from the country.
What Are the Benefits of Having a U Visa?
If you are granted U non-immigrant status, you may receive certain advantages:
- After three years, it is possible to get a Green Card and become a lawful permanent resident – After five years as a legal permanent resident, you may be entitled to apply for citizenship in the United States;
- Defend yourself from deportation – If you face deportation, applying for the U Visa will allow you to avoid deportation;
- It is possible to include your family in your application;
- Getting a Social Security Number (SSN); and
- Be eligible for a work permit.
What is Needed to Qualify for the U Visa?
If you match the following criteria, you may be eligible for a U Visa:
- You are a victim of a qualifying criminal activity such as rape, human trafficking, torture, domestic violence, sexual or physical assault, prostitution, kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment, abduction, perjury, blackmail, slave trade, involuntary servitude, felonious assault, sexual exploitation, foreign labor fraud, forced labor, extortion, robbery, harassment, or espionage;
- You were manipulated or coerced to commit any of the crimes listed above and crimes such as murder, manslaughter, or mutilation;
- With information about a criminal activity – If you are under the age of 16 or unable to supply the information due to incapacity, your parent, guardian, or legal representative may do so on your behalf;
- You’ve been abused or assaulted physically or mentally;
- You are allowed to enter the United States. If not, fill out Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-immigrant, to request a waiver of inadmissibility; or
- You assisted, are assisting, or will assist U.S. officials in the criminal investigation or prosecution of the crime – If you cannot provide such assistance due to a handicap, your parent, guardian, or legal representative may do so on your behalf.
It’s important to remember that being a victim of any offenses listed above does not automatically qualify you for a U Visa. Furthermore, the crimes must have occurred in the United States or have been committed in violation of the country’s laws.
How to Apply for the U Visa?
It’s crucial to understand what a U Visa is and how to apply for one. In this regard, you must provide the following papers to apply for a U Visa in the United States:
- Form I-918 (Petition for U Non-immigrant Status);
- Form I-918 Supplement B (Certification of U Non-immigrant Status);
- Form I-192 (Application for Advance Parole of Entry as a Non-immigrant) if there is an issue of inadmissibility;
- Some documentation that proves you meet each of the qualifying conditions; and
- Personal statement of the illegal activity that took place.
If you are not in the United States, you can still apply for a U Visa. To do this, you must:
- Submit all U Visa documentation to the Vermont service center;
- Follow the Vermont customer service center’s instructions – Such instructions will need the use of your biometric information (fingerprints, photographs, or signatures);
- If your petition is accepted, you must go through consular procedures to enter the US.
How Much Does a U Visa Cost?
There are no costs associated with the U Visa application for you and your family member. However, some of the related documents and processes may involve costs. But, those fees may be waived based on your income or financial need. For example, there are payments linked with employment authorization and the remission of inadmissibility.
You can petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to waive costs for any or all of these forms so you won’t have to pay them. Bbut if they decline your request, any documents that need a payment will be returned to you, and you’ll have to resubmit them.
If you apply for a fee waiver through Form I-192 (waiver of inadmissibility) and USCIS declines your request, your Form I-192 will be returned to you, and you will have to reapply. Our knowledgeable immigration visa lawyer can assist you in determining if you are eligible for a fee waiver.
These experienced immigration lawyers can guide you in putting together the paperwork you’ll need to persuade the government to waive your fees regarding your U Visa application.
How Long Will it Take to Get a U Visa?
The time it takes USCIS to reach a judgment on your U Visa application can vary based on the specifics of your case, but you should expect significant delays.
USCIS typically takes four (4) years to process U Visa applications, including taking biometrics (photographs and fingerprints), processing all forms and supporting information (such as a Certification of Helpfulness from a qualifying agency), and finally, issuing an approval notice and work permit.
That estimate, however, should be regarded as a guideline rather than a promise. Depending on the specifics of your case, the time it takes USCIS to complete Form I-918 might vary significantly.
If the USCIS officer assigned to your case, for example, needs further information, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). It will hold your file until the desired papers are received.
Will a U Visa Ever Lead to a Green Card?
After years of continuous presence in the United States, you may be eligible to modify your status to “permanent resident” (and earn your green card), if you received a U visa as a victim of a heinous crime supporting law enforcement.
But take note that you must continue to be qualified as a U Visa crime victim when you apply. Since your U Visa expires in four years, you should apply for a green card as soon as possible.
Moreover, you must be eligible for U nonimmigrant status when you apply for a green card. It means you must have valid U status and continue to cooperate with law enforcement by giving helpful information that may be utilized to investigate and prosecute the offenders who have wronged you.
If you match the following criteria, you may be entitled to apply for permanent residence:
- You have been physically present in the United States for at least three years.
- You have not refused to assist law enforcement agents in investigating and prosecuting the offense against you in an unreasonable manner.
- Your continuing stay in the United States is justified on humanitarian grounds, to maintain family unity, or for the general good.
Suppose your assistance is no longer required to investigate and prosecute the offense against you. In that case, it will be more challenging to convince U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you are qualified for a green card (for example, the criminal case is now closed, and a government official will not vouch for your “helpfulness”).
Prepare to demonstrate a lengthy history of assisting government officials and a recent certification from a government body that qualifies you.
Immigration Lawyers in New Jersey for All Your Visa Needs
Because each person’s situation is unique, both U and T Visa situations are frequently complicated. While you now have information on what a U Visa is and how to evaluate your situation, it may still be in your best interest to consult a skilled immigration lawyer who specializes in immigration law.
Seeking legal assistance to ensure that you are qualified for the procedure and that you have the specified papers and documentation can reduce the complexities of the overall process.
We have years of experience in immigration concerns at Andres Mejer Law. Feel free to contact our legal team immediately to consult your case. We’re always here to answer all your inquiries regarding the immigration law and assist you in your journey.