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However, there is an important tool at the hands of noncitizens and law enforcement to assist in protecting vulnerable populations as they prosecute the crimes that victimized them. In this article we will discuss the following:

  • What is a U visa?
  • What do you need to apply for a U visa?
  • What benefit does a U visa provide? Why should I apply for a U visa?
  • Who qualifies for a U visa?
  • What are the qualifying criminal activities for a survivor?
  • Are there any u visa limits?

For many of us, we will never be victims of criminal activity in our neighborhoods or for our jobs. However, many people suffer at the hands of criminals in their communities. If they are undocumented, these individuals may not feel comfortable coming forth and helping the police with their complaint for fear of being deported. However, there is an important tool at the hands of non-citizens and law enforcement to assist in protecting vulnerable populations as they prosecute the crimes that victimized them. In this article we will discuss the following:

  • What is a U visa?
  • What do you need to apply for a U visa?
  • What benefit does a U visa provide? Why should I apply for a U visa?
  • Who qualifies for a U visa?
  • What are the qualifying criminal activities for a survivor?
  • Are there any u visa limits?

If you have questions about the U visa or immigration in general, please don’t hesitate to give O’Flaherty Law a call at 630-324-6666 to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney.

What is a U visa?

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is a visa created for survivors of certain criminal activity who have suffered mental or physical abuse. There is also the requirement of being helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity that they complain of. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The U visa was created to incentivize immigrant populations to bring forth and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking and other heinous crimes, while giving protection to the survivors who have suffered mental or physical abuse at the hands of the criminals.

What do you need to apply for a U visa?

To apply for a U visa, the applicant would need to report the criminal activity that they are complaining about. The report should be made to the appropriate agency, but it can be attached to other sorts of actions (i.e. it does not necessarily have to be the police who investigates). For instance, if someone is complaining about sexual assault while at work, the Illinois Department of Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could issue their support for the applicant if they determine that sexual assault took place during their investigation. This show of support is usually done with the issuance of the Supplement B of the U visa. Once this document is issued, the applicant has 6 months to apply for a U visa with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) before their Supplement B expires.

What benefit does a U visa provide? Why should I apply for a U visa?

A U visa provides for a path to status and citizenship. If a U visa is approved it provides several benefits for its recipients, such as lawful status for up to 4 years once it is issued; reprieve from deportation while a visa becomes available for you AND your u visa application was approved; work authorization during the years the u visa is active (generally 4 years); work authorization while a u visa is issued in your name; benefits for qualifying family members (children, spouses, and, in some cases, parents); and eligibility to become a legal permanent resident after 3 years of receipt of the U visa.

Who qualifies for a U visa?

To qualify for a u visa, a person needs to:

  1. Be a direct or indirect victim of qualifying criminal activity;
  1. Report the criminal activity to an investigative government body;
  1. Provide support for the investigation of the alleged criminal activity (i.e. not deny reasonable requests for information or testifying in Court.); and
  1. That the qualifying criminal activity violated local, state or federal law, or occurred in the USA.

Those would be the basic requirements to qualify for a U visa. However, additional information may be needed to make sure your application is successful.

An indirect victim of a criminal activity is the person who complains about the crime due to: incapacity or being underage at the time the criminal activity occurred; or in the event of murder or manslaughter. If the direct victim finds themselves in these situations, the indirect victim could submit the complaint and should be assisting with the prosecution of the criminal activity. The people who can be considered indirect victim are: the parents of the victim and the unmarried siblings under 18 years of age at the time the qualifying criminal activity occurred.

What are the qualifying criminal activities for a survivor?

  • Abduction
  • Abusive Sexual Contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False Imprisonment
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Felonious Assault
  • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint
  • Other Related Crimes*†

*Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.

†Also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes.

Are there any u visa limits?

There are only 10,000 U visas issued each year. This has created a backlog of several years for new U visa applicants. President Biden has unveiled his desire to amend this area of immigration law to increase the numbers of U visas to 50,000 per year. This will help reduce the backlog in applications for U visas, and will provide for faster processing of this kind of immigration relief.

If you have questions about the U visa or immigration in general, please don’t hesitate to give O’Flaherty Law a call at 630-324-6666 to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney.

Posted 
April 21, 2021
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