Through a U visa, a victim of a serious crime may be eligible to obtain protection under immigration law. To apply for a U visa, a crime victim must report the offense and work with law enforcement and government agencies.
Navigating the U visa application process can be confusing and challenging. We want to make sure that every person understands their legal rights and immigration options. Here, our Los Angeles U visa attorney answers some of the most frequently asked questions about crime victim visas.
What Crimes Qualify for Protection Through a U Visa?
U visas are reserved for victims of certain serious criminal offenses. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a list of the criminal activities that qualify for protection through a U visa. Most of the offenses are violent crimes and sexual crimes. Some notable examples include:
- Domestic violence;
- Felony assault;
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation; and
- Human trafficking.
Are You Required to Cooperate With Law Enforcement and Prosecutors?
Yes. Perhaps the most important thing to know about U visas is that they are only available to crime victims who are deemed to have fully cooperated with law enforcement and other government agencies. Failure to cooperate is very likely to result in a U visa application being denied.
Can I Apply for a U Visa If I am Undocumented or Out-of-Status?
Yes. Your immigration status will not prevent you from applying for a U visa. It does not matter how you entered the United States. The U visa is designed to provide much needed legal protection to undocumented immigrants and out-of-status immigrants who were the victim of a serious criminal act.
What if the Government Decides to Drop the Case?
The government’s success in prosecuting a criminal case is not necessary to preserve U visa eligibility. In fact, you can still apply for a U visa even if the government decides to dismiss the charges and drop the case outright. When applying, your duty is to cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutors.
Can My Children Get Immigration Protection Through a U Visa?
Yes. The immediate family members of a victim are often also eligible to obtain the same immigration benefits. If you have undocumented children and you obtained a U visa, your children should be granted the same temporary protection under the law.
Can a U Visa Lead to Permanent Residency?
Yes. A U visa is valid for up to four years. Additionally, you may be eligible to renew the U visa for an additional four years. Beyond that, victims and their family members will also have the ability to apply for permanent residency in the United States (a green card) after holding a U visa in good standing for at least three years.
Call Our Los Angeles, CA U Visa Attorney for Immediate Assistance
At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our California immigration lawyer is a passionate, dedicated advocate for clients. If you have questions about applying for a U visa, we can help. For a confidential consultation, please call us at our Los Angeles law office today at (213) 262-2000. We serve communities throughout Southern California.