U Visas were created by Congress in 2000 to encourage immigrant victims of crime to report crimes and cooperate with law enforcement without fear of immigration consequences. Obtaining a U visa allows the beneficiary to receive a temporary visa and work authorization for four years. After the third anniversary of the U visa, most recipients are eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status (a green card). The U visa allows for and permits waivers of past immigration violations and past criminal history if a sufficiently compelling case can be made for such a waiver. U visa petitioners may also petition for spouses, minor children, and certain other family members to receive the same status.
U Visa Eligibility
In order to be eligible to receive a U visa, the petitioner must show that:
- He or she is the victim of a qualifying crime and possesses information about that crime. Qualifying crimes include: Felonious assault (i.e. armed assault), domestic violence, kidnapping, sexual assault, rape, incest, and other violent crimes.
- He or she has cooperated and/or assisted law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. Full prosecution or conviction of the perpetrator is not required, but full cooperation of the victim is. In order to apply for a U visa, the victim MUST receive a certification from law enforcement confirming the victim’s full cooperation.
- He or she is admissible to the United States. If the petitioner is not fully admissible to the United States (e.g. in lawful immigration status and free of any criminal history), then a waiver of inadmissibility is required. In the U visa context, a waiver of inadmissibility is determined based on factors including family unity, public safety and security, and the national interest.
Like any other immigration benefit, U visa eligibility requires a complete analysis of facts and law. Consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer is recommended prior to making any application for U non-immigrant status.
Contact Walker Gates Vela about your U visa today
At Walker Gates Vela, we have worked with hundreds of immigrants to obtain U visa status. To learn more about our services, contact our immigration law firm in Austin, today by calling (512) 633-1785 or contact us online today.