Crime happens all too often in Los Angeles. Crime is on the rise in L.A., and anyone could become a victim. When nonimmigrants are the victim of certain mentally and physically abusive and harmful crimes, they may be eligible for U nonimmigrant visa status. The U visa allows nonimmigrants who are victims of certain qualifying crimes to stay in the United States for up to four years so long as the victim assists law enforcement with the prosecution and investigation of the crime the nonimmigrant was a victim of.
The benefits of U visa status are many. For instance, crime victims in Los Angeles with U visa status are eligible for a green card after three years. After obtaining a green card, nonimmigrants can apply to become U.S. citizens. The U visa status also allows for the nonimmigrant to work in the U.S. and may make the U visa holder eligible for certain public benefits in California.
Eligibility for A U Visa
Eligibility for a U visa requires three main elements:
- The applicant must be a victim of a qualifying crime. Only certain crimes that occurred in the United States or violated U.S. law will render a nonimmigrant victim eligible for the U visa.
- The applicant must have been harmed physically or mentally by the crime. In order to seek U visa status, you must have suffered some substantial physical or mental harm or abuse from the crime.
- The applicant must agree to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the crime. If you are the victim of a crime that left you mentally or physically hurt, you likely want the police to catch those who are responsible. In order to get U visa status, you must agree to help law enforcement solve the crime you were a victim of. This could take the form of assistance you provided law enforcement concerning the crime before applying for the U visa, assistance you are providing as you apply for the U visa, or even assistance you plan on providing after you apply for the U visa.
Nonimmigrant Victims Of Crime
In order to be eligible for a U visa, a nonimmigrant must be the victim of a qualifying crime. These crimes include:
- Abduction, being held hostage, false imprisonment, unlawful criminal restraint and kidnapping;
- Abusive sexaul contact, incest, female genital mutilation, sexaul assault, rape, sexual exploitation, prostituion and trafficking;
- Blackmail, extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice, fraud in foreign labor contracting and witness tampering;
- Domestic violence, felonious assault, manslaughter, murder, stalking and torture;
- Involuntary servitude, peonage and slave trade; and
- Conspiracy, attempt and solicitation to commit any of the above identified crimes.
When applying for U visa status, nonimmigrant applicants must provide documentation to prove each requirement for U visa eligibility. These forms and documents include:
- The U Visa Application Form. For starters, the applicant must complete Form I-918, which is the application for U visa status.
- Assisting Law Enforcement Supplemental Form. You will also need to include Form I-918 Supplement B, which demonstrates your cooperation, or willingness to help law enforcement concerning the crime.
- Personal Statement. This is a statement that you prepare explaining what happened to you and how you were a victim of a qualifying crime.
- Cover Letter. This is a formal letter detailing the contents of your application packet.
- Identification Documents. Proof of your identity is required. Copies of birth certifications, passports, immigration documents (if applicable), etc. can be used to prove your identity.
- Inadmissibility Waiver. If you are inadmissible for entry into the United States, you may need a section 212(d)(3) waiver of inadmissibility. You must complete the inadmissibility waiver Form I-192.
Other documentation, such as doctor’s notes or letters documenting the mental or physical harm you suffered as a result of the crime, and police reports and/or other court records concerning the crime are helpful documents to include in your U visa application, but they are not required.
Being the victim of crime is unfortunate, but it does not mean that you have to leave the United States. The U visa is a great way to remain in the country and to help law enforcement so that you can get the justice you deserve. The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. in Southern California are here to help you. Please feel free to contact our Los Angeles lawyers if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation. Let our immigration attorneys help you stay in the United States with a U visa so that you can help law enforcement stop crime from happening to others in the future.