What is a U-Visa?
The U Visa is a United States nonimmigrant visa that is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse while in the U.S. This visa can also be granted to the victim’s immediate family members. The U Visa opens doors to such victims to be able to enter or remain in the United States without the fear of deportation. Though, in order for such victims to be able to gain a U-Visa status they much be willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity they have been victims of. With this in mind, U-visa was created to not only protect and better serve victims of qualifying crimes but to also intensify the capability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute such qualifying crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking of people.
What Is the U-Visas Process?
The process of applying for a U-Visa is simple. First, you must complete and submit a Form I-918, which is a petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. Next, you must also provide evidence of eligibility and provide a personal statement describing the criminal activity of which you are a victim for. Last, the applicant must have an authorized law enforcement agency sign the form that confirms the immigrant victim was or is currently being helpful within the investigation and prosecution of the criminal activity. One thing to keep in mind is that if the immigrant is outside of the United States when they apply for a U-Visa, they are required to undergo through the consular processing. Now, to apply for a U-visa there is no fee but there is a filing fee of $250 for anyone who is applying for a derivative visa for a family member. Though if a family member is unable to pay that fee, they can request a fee waiver by filing form I-912 or by simply submitting a written request. Another fee one must also keep in mind is if you hire a lawyer to help you with a visa application or to help you appeal a denial of a visa. To conclude, the U.S government only grants a maximum of 10,000 U-Visas each year so as an applicant the best thing you can do while you wait for your U-Visa approval is to avoid any negative contact with the police because it can affect your U-Visa case.
The Benefits of U-Visas
After gaining the U-Visa status the benefits include the following:
Lawful status for up to four years
Derivative benefits for qualifying family members
Eligibility to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident after three years
Types of U-Visas
The different types of U-Visas are:
U-1 visas = for persons who were crime victims of qualifying crimes
U-2 visas = spouses of U-1 applicants
U-3 = children of U-1 applicants
U-4 visas = parents of U-1 applicants who are single and under 21
U-5 visas = minor siblings of U-1 applicants who are single and under 21