Immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, who have been victims of serious crimes in the United States can qualify for the U visa type of immigration waiver. Among these crimes are, but are not limited to, sexual abuse, domestic violence, forced labor, sexual exploitation, kidnapping, trafficking, and rape. Any activity substantially similar to one of the listed crimes qualifies as a qualifying crime. It may also be considered a qualifying criminal activity to attempt, conspire, or solicit any of the crimes listed above. A U visa can help the victim of said crimes with their legal status, because of the protection that the U visa provides the victim, many immigrants feel protected and safe to report the crimes to authorities.
U Visa Eligibility
An immigrant with a U visa can stay and work in the United States for up to four years. If a victim holds a U visa for more than three years, however, she or he is eligible to apply for a green card.
A person’s eligibility for a U visa is determined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USCIS determines whether the applicant qualifies for a U visa based on information provided by USCIS; however, law enforcement does not determine eligibility.
- Has been victimized by an eligible crime or criminal activity;
- Has information about a crime or criminal activity; and
- Is, was, or is likely to be helpful in the detection or investigation of the qualifying crime, or in the prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of the perpetrator of the qualifying crime.
Although U visa applicants need to go through the process with law enforcement, it is significantly important to understand that they are not alone. The U visa status is assigned to those who need it and, therefore, it provides help and stability to the applicant.