U Visas for victims of criminal activity
Victims of certain crimes committed in the United States and who did not refuse to cooperate with law enforcement can apply for a U Visa. In addition, the U Visa will require that the applicant has suffered substantial harm. The first step is to obtain Law Enforcement certification that you were a victim of a qualifying crime and that you did not oppose to cooperate with law enforcement. This is done by completing USCIS form I-919B. In California, the law requires all law enforcement agencies to respond to I-918B requests within 60 days.
Burga Law Firm PC is a U Visa Attorney in Rancho Cucamonga and we have been successful in protecting immigrant victims from deportation.
What type of crimes must I be a victim of in order to qualify for a U Visa?
Not all crimes qualify for a U Visa. The following is a list of crimes from USCIS that qualify for a U Visa:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes such as attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes. Also, any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.
What are the benefits of a U Visa?
If you get your U Visa application granted, you will be able to obtain many benefits; but one of them is not the ability to travel outside of the United States. The most important benefit of a U Visa is that it helps individuals who don't qualify for anything else either because they are inadmissible or have prior deportation or criminal history. A U Visa is sometimes the only thing that you may qualify for if you don't have any relatives that can petition for you.
A U Visa comes with a Stay of Removal. Meaning that if you have been ordered deported by the Immigration Judge, a U Visa will allow you to remain in the U.S. by requesting a Stay of Removal from ICE.
How long is the process to obtain a U Visa?
At this time it is longer, the U Visa processing time is longer than any other application. The most recent processing time for U Visas is about 4 years. Only 10,000 U Visas are granted every year and since there are many applicants trying to obtain a U Visa. The most recent estimate said that there are 140,000 applicants waiting to be placed in the waiting list and get deferred action.
VAWA - Self Petition
VAWA (Violence Against Women's Act)
You can apply for a Green Card through the Violence Against Women's Act (VAWA) if you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by:
- U.S. Citizen Spouse or Former Spouse
- U.S. Citizen Parent
- U.S. Citizen Son or Daughter
- A Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse or Former Spouse; or
- A Lawful Permanent Resident Parent
VAWA differs from a U Visa because it does not require a certification from law enforcement, but it does require that you are married to the abuser or the abuser is your child or parent. If you are the victim of Elder Abuse committed by your U.S. Citizen son or daughter you may be eligible for VAWA and then obtain Legal Permanent Residence status.
What are the requirements for filing a VAWA Self-Petition?
You must first file an I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow or Special Immigrant with USCIS. Many applicants are too afraid to apply for VAWA because they don't want their abuser to know. You are not required to let your abuser know that you are applying for VAWA. You don't need the abuser's approval or consent. In addition, you must meet the following requirements:
- You have been battered or a victim of extreme cruelty by a U.S Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident family member as described above.
- You must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 3 years.
- You must show Good Moral Character
- That your removal would cause extreme hardship to you.
Each of these requirements has a wide threshold on what they meet. For example, extreme cruelty does not have to be extreme physical abuse. It can just be that your abuser family member intended to dominate, control and or humiliate you and that he actually did dominate, control and or humiliated you. This is common on situations where a U.S. Citizens brings a foreign spouse into the U.S. and then threatens to report her to Immigration (ICE) or not file form I-751 to remove the conditions to Legal Permanent Residence Card.