From Victim to Beneficiary: The Road to the U Visa.
Experiencing being a victim of crime is a devastating experience, however, nothing should stand in the way of providing the necessary assistance to the authorities to bring those responsible to justice. In this context, Congress has enacted legislation designed to support immigrants who have suffered certain qualifying crimes. The U visa offers these victims the ability to live and work legally in the United States for up to four years. In addition, when they have resided in the country on a U visa for three years, they can apply for a green card.
In this article, we will provide detailed information that will allow you to understand the U visa application process for crime victims.
In order to demonstrate to USCIS that you are deserving of a U Visa, it is essential to provide all the necessary documents that detail and support your case. There are a number of mandatory documents and other documents that, while not mandatory, may be important evidence to support your arguments. Among these documents are:
It is important to note that if any of the documents are in a language other than English, you must submit both the original copy in the foreign language and an English translation.
As a crime victim, you act as the principal applicant (U-1) for the U visa. Fortunately, certain members of your family can be included as derivative beneficiaries on your application and obtain U nonimmigrant status if your application is approved. Those family members eligible to be included in your U visa application are as follows (be sure to file Supplement A with Form I-918):
If you, as the principal applicant (U-1), are over 21 years of age you may include:
If you, as the principal applicant (U-1), are under 21 years of age you may include:
It is essential that all family members listed on your U visa application meet the requirements for admissibility to the United States. If there are grounds on which they may be deemed inadmissible, they must also apply for a waiver of inadmissibility.
In evaluating your U visa application, USCIS will consider the age of your family when submitting the application. This means that even if you or a family member celebrates another birthday during the processing of your U visa application, it may affect the eligibility of your derivatives. It is crucial to keep this factor in mind throughout the process.
When filing a U visa application, it is important to keep in mind that you do not automatically acquire the right to work in the United States. Therefore, during the period that USCIS processes your application, which currently ranges from 14 to 24 months, and while you are waiting for a decision, you are not allowed to work in the country.
When USCIS determines your eligibility for a U visa, you will be notified of their decision and placed on a waiting list for U visa approval. However, because of your eligibility, you will be granted “deferred action,” so you have low priority for deportation and can apply for work authorization. This allows you to work legally in the U.S. while you await final resolution of your immigration status.
Generally, the U visa is granted for a period of four years. After three years from the approval of the U visa, you can apply for a Green Card.
To be eligible for an adjustment of status or Green Card, the following requirements must be met:
Family members who benefit from their U visa as derivatives may also apply for a green card if they meet the above requirements.