Visas to Protect Victims of Crimes
A U-Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows victims of certain crimes to obtain a work permit and remain in the United States. Congress created the U-Visa to encourage victims of crimes to feel safe reporting criminal activity to the police. U-Visas make it easier for law enforcement agencies to protect victims of crimes and prosecute people who commit crimes.
A U-Visa may also provide a path towards obtaining legal permanent residence in the United States. A U-Visa will allow a person to remain in the United States for four years. Three years after a person obtains a U-Visa, he or she is eligible to apply for legal permanent residence. In some cases, family members of the victim might also be able to obtain a U-Visa.
What are the requirements for a U Visa?
- You must have been a victim of one of certain crimes that occurred in the United States.
- You must have reported the crime to the police.
- You must have been helpful in the investigation of the crime and cooperated with law enforcement when they asked for help. The police, prosecutor, or other authorized person will have to sign a form to confirm that you were helpful.
- The crime caused you to suffer physically and/or mentally.
You may still qualify for a U-Visa if you have a criminal record, entered the United States illegally one or several times, or have a prior deportation. As part of a U-Visa petition, you can ask the government to forgive any reason that you might not be eligible to remain in the United States. In most cases, the government is generous and recognizes the need for victims of crimes to remain in the United States.
If you are ever the victim of a crime, it is important that you report criminal activity to the police. You should obtain a copy of the police report and consult with an attorney to determine if you qualify for a U-Visa.
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