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A basic guide to U visas

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2022 | Immigration And Naturalization

A U visa is given to people who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who have been the victims of certain crimes. If you were physically, emotionally or economically harmed by a crime in New Jersey, you might be able to change your immigration status.

Understanding a U visa

Law enforcement officials sometimes need victims of a crime to testify or otherwise assist in the prosecution of a criminal case. However, many victims are reluctant to help because they fear that immigration officers may deport them, even if they aren’t the ones who committed it. The U visa was, hence, created to encourage nonimmigrant victims of certain crimes to come forward and assist law enforcement officials without fearing for their own immigration status.

Eligibility for a U visa

To be eligible for a U visa, you must have suffered direct physical, emotional or monetary harm as a result of the commission of crimes such as domestic violence, rape, trafficking, involuntary servitude, or sexual assault. You must also be able to show that you have helpful information about the crime and that you are willing to cooperate with law enforcement officials in the investigation or prosecution of the case. In addition, the crime must have occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.

The time it takes to get a U visa

The process of getting a U visa can take several months. Once you have filed the necessary paperwork, you will need to wait for the police or prosecutor handling your case to certify that you have been helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If they do so, they will forward your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval. USCIS may also request an interview with you as part of the adjudication process.

If you get a U visa, you will be able to live and work in the United States for up to four years. You may also be eligible to apply for permanent residency after three years. Furthermore, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may also qualify for derivative U visas.