In 2000, Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, which created the U nonimmigrant status, also known as the U visa. This law was intended to allow law enforcement agencies to better serve the victims of crimes such as sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Immigrant victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and who are willing to help law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute these crimes are eligible to receive a U visa and remain in the United States.
To receive a U visa, all of the following eligibility requirements must be true:
- You are the victim of a qualifying crime.
- You suffered substantial mental or physical abuse because of that crime.
- You have information about the criminal activity.
- You are helpful, were helpful, or were likely to be helpful to law enforcement officials during the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
- The crime occurred in the United States.
- You are eligible to be in the United States.
In addition, you must submit a signed certification from a law enforcement official to be used as evidence in support of the petition for a U visa. This certification will give U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) information about the criminal case, including your willingness in the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of the crime. Any federal, state, or local law enforcement authority who plays a part in the criminal case may complete the certification. Other officials such as child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor can also complete the certification.
Qualifying Criminal Activities
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a list of crimes that are considered to be qualifying crimes for a U visa. The list contains broad categories of crimes, but similar crimes that violate federal, state, or local laws may also be accepted as qualifying crimes. Conspiracy, attempt, or solicitation to commit any of these crimes may also be considered to be a similar crime. Qualifying criminal activities include:
- Sexual assault
- Domestic violence
- Obstruction of justice
A Woodridge, IL Immigration Lawyer Can Help
U.S. immigration laws have changed significantly over the past several years. Currently, the number of U visas that the government is permitted to issue each year is around 10,000. If you believe you may be in a situation where you are eligible to receive a U visa, you need to contact a knowledgeable Addison, IL immigration attorney right away. At Khan Nayyar & Associates, LLC, we will discuss your options with you and help you determine your best course of action. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at 630-529-9377.