I Was the Victim of a Crime. Do I Have to Be in the U.S. on a Valid Status to Apply for the U-Visa?
A U-Visa lets undocumented immigrants who were victims of crimes stay in the United States if they meet certain requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers special provisions for victims of substantial physical and/or mental abuse, allowing them to legally live in the U.S. for at least 4 years, or longer if they are eligible for a green card, which would allow them to stay in the country permanently. The stipulation is that the undocumented immigrant must comply with law enforcement or government officials in investigating or prosecuting someone else’s criminal activity.
Examples of crimes committed against you for which you may apply for the U-Visa include: domestic abuse, felonious assault, involuntary servitude, peonage, rape, sexual abuse, female genital mutilation, incest, kidnapping, false imprisonment, torture, human trafficking, blackmail, and more.
What Is a U-Visa, and How Do I Get One?
A U-Visa protects undocumented immigrants and helps the U.S. government solve crimes. It provides these benefits to previously-undocumented immigrants:
- The individual may legally reside in the U.S. for 4 years, but after 3 years, they may apply for a green card to stay in the country permanently and potentially in the future be granted naturalization.
- A U-Visa holder may legally work in the United States without the need for employer sponsorship.
- Some of the applicants’ family members may also be eligible for a U-Visa.
To apply for the U-Visa, you will first need to fill out certain forms and papers supporting what you have said about the alleged crime you are reporting. You will then send said documents to USCIS, and the U.S. government will decide whether you successfully meet the requirements for a U-Visa. There is no need to go to court or have an interview, and although a lawyer is not required, a skilled immigration attorney can be your legal advocate. He or she can make sure your paperwork is accurate and detailed, so you may have the best chance of obtaining the U-Visa.
Who Is Eligible to Apply for the U-Visa?
You can apply for the U-Visa if you do not have any immigration status, or if your immigration papers or legal status have expired. You can also apply for a U-Visa if you are outside of the United States. Some may be surprised to learn that even if you have previously committed a crime or you were deported in the past, you are still eligible to apply for the U-Visa. Attorney Susham Modi has, for example, been successful in his past work of having a client granted a U visa despite a removal order.
U-Visa Requirements Checklist
If you meet these legal requirements, you may apply for a U-Visa (note: you must meet all requirements):
- You have been the victim of a qualifying crime that occurred in the United States
- You are helpful to the police and/or law enforcement
- You were substantially hurt either physically or mentally from the committed crime
Some of the documents to the government for U visa application can include, but are not limited to, the following as general examples only if they apply to you such as:
- Form I-918 Supplement B, also known as Supp-B: This shows that you helped law enforcement.
- Form I-918 is the main form for the U-Visa application.
- You must write a personal statement in your own words of what happened to you that will be submitted to the government, supporting your claim that you deserve the U-Visa. This must also contain a cover letter.
- Form I-192: If applicable, you will have to sign a waiver that you have committed either immigration or criminal violations and you need to have government permission to stay in the U.S.
- You must submit identification documents showing who you are, such as a passport or birth certificate.
- If you have them, you should submit any police and court records proving you were the victim of a crime.
- Your friends, family, doctors, or mental health professionals can send their own letter in which they talk about the crime and the harm you suffered as a result.
Need to file a U-Visa? We can help. Contact The Modi Law Firm visa lawyers for a case evaluation at (832) 514-4030, or contact us online for a quick reply.