By Texas Immigration Attorney, Michael Spychalski
The U non-immigrant status (u visa) is a visa set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. This visa was created in October 2000. Congress created this visa to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes while, at the same time, offer protection to victims of these crimes.
There are requirements to obtain a U non-immigrant status. The individual must: (1) have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity. (2) Have information concerning that criminal activity. (3) Have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. (4) The criminal activity violated U.S. laws. There is an extensive list of what criminal activity qualifies. Please check with an immigration attorney to make sure the alleged criminal activity fits the definition.
There is no immigration fee for a U non-immigrant status. One must obtain a certification from a certifying agency to obtain a U nonimmigrant status. A certifying agency is defined as Federal, state or local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges or other authority that investigates or prosecutes criminal activity. The U nonimmigrant status cannot exceed 4 years. However, extensions are available if the foreign national’s presence in the United States is required to assist in the investigation or prosecution. A U visa can also be obtained outside the United States. There is a cap on the number of U visas that can be granted in one year. That number is 10,000. Family members can also be petitioned for. If the person is under 21 years old, a spouse, children, and parents can be petitioned for. If over 21 years old, a spouse and children can be petitioned. It is possible for permanent residency for under a U status. You must have been present in the United States for 3 years under that status. Family members can also benefit.
A U visa is often not utilized. Come and see an Immigration Attorney if you think you might qualify for this status.
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