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Addison U Visa AttorneyIn 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.

Eligibility Requirements

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.

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How U Visas Can Protect Immigrant Workers

Carol Stream immigration visa lawyerAn estimated 1.13 million people obtained lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States in 2017, according to the Department of Homeland Security. While employer exploitation can happen to anyone, immigrants tend to be the target of exploitation or abuse, threatening the lawful immigration status of many workers.

Abusive Behaviors of Employers

Certain behaviors exhibited by employers can violate laws related to wages and hours, protections provided by equal employment laws, or workers’ rights to participate in protected collective activity, but sometimes employer abuse can be considered a criminal offense. These behaviors include things such as:

  • Trafficking
  • Rape
  • Unlawful criminal restraint
  • False imprisonment
  • Blackmail
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Witness tampering
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Extortion
  • Domestic Violence
  • Kidnapping
  • Being held hostage
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder

In situations which these behaviors occur, workers may possibly be eligible to receive a U visa.

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Obtaining a U Visa As the Victim of Criminal Activity

DuPage County immigration visa attorneyWhen a non-citizen who lives in the United States is the victim of a crime, they may be afraid to come forward and report the crime for fear of deportation. However, following the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, these people have the option to report the crime, assist law enforcement in prosecuting criminals, and obtain a visa which will allow them to remain in the United States.

U Nonimmigrant Visas

A person is eligible to apply for a U visa if they meet the following requirements:

  • They have been the victim of certain qualifying crimes, including domestic violence, false imprisonment, extortion, sexual assault, stalking, trafficking, and unlawful criminal restraint, which occurred in the U.S. or violated United States laws.
  • They suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse” as a result of the crime.
  • They can provide information about the crime to law enforcement and are willing to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
  • They meet the requirements for admissibility to the U.S.

A person can apply for a U visa by filing Form I-918 (Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status), along with Form I-918, Supplement B (U Nonimmigrant Status Certification). They must also submit a statement describing the crime committed against them. If they are inadmissible to the United States, they may request a waiver of inadmissibility by filing Form I-192 (Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant).

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