Law Offices Jon E. Jessen - US Immigration Attorney
Immigration FAQs
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US Immigration FAQs

Immigrants who are Victims of Serious Crimes

En Español

I am an illegal alien and I have been the victim of a serious crime. I am afraid to report the crime or to assist the police with their investigation.

As the victim of a serious crime you may be eligible to apply for a U-Visa. The U visa applies to immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, who are the victims of certain serious crimes and who have cooperated with authorities in the prosecution of the perpetrator. An immigrant granted a U Visa or I-360 Petition will subsequently be given legal status to reside and work in the United States.

Background

In October 2000, Congress created the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (Act). Finally, after seven years of interim rules, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) has published final Regulations on U Visa’s, which became effective October 17, 2007. The U visa applies to immigrants who are the victims of certain serious crimes and who have cooperated with authorities in the prosecution of the perpetrator.

What is the purpose of a U-Visa?

The law gives law enforcement agencies the ability to investigate and prosecute certain types of criminal cases, including: domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes while, at the same time, offering protection to victims of such crimes.

The law also helps law enforcement agencies to provide assistance to immigrants who are victims of crime.


What is a U Visa?

The Act created a U visa, which is available to illegal immigrants who have met each of the five points below:
  • Has been the victim of one of the following crimes; and
    Abduction Incest Rape
    Abusive Sexual Contact Involuntary Servitude Sexual Assault
    Blackmail Kidnapping Sexual Exploitation
    Domestic Violence Manslaughter Slave Trade
    Extortion Murder Torture
    False Imprisonment Obstruction of Justice Trafficking
    Felonious Assault Peonage Unlawful Criminal Restraint
    Female Genital Mutilation Perjury Witness Tampering
    Hostage Prostitution Attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above crimes
  • Has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of one of the above crimes; and
  • Has useful information concerning the crime which occurred; and
  • Has helped, or is likely to help, in the investigation or prosecution of the crime, and
  • The crime committed violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States.

How do I apply for a U Visa?

The immigrant must first obtain a law enforcement certification before filing a Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918). All U visas must be filed with Immigration at the Vermont Service Center.
  • What is a law enforcement certification?
    An immigrant who is the victim of one of the listed crimes must obtain a certification from a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, or a prosecutor, judge or other authority, which is responsible for the investigation or prosecution of the crime. Other agencies such as child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor can also issue a certification.
  • Is there a form for the law enforcement certification?
    Yes. The U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (Form I-918, Supplement B) is a USCIS form which must be completed and signed by the agency or authority responsible for the investigation or prosecution.
  • Can anyone who is employed by the agency or authority responsible for the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying crime complete and sign the Form I-918?
    No. The person completing and signing the I-918 must either be: (1) the head of the agency; or (2) a supervisor designated by the agency and authorized to issue a certification on behalf of the agency.

Can an immigrant who is now outside the United States but was the victim of a qualifying crime that occurred while the immigrant was in the United States apply for a U visa?

Yes. Immigrants, who are victims of a qualifying crime, and their family members, can apply for a U visa either from outside the United States, as long as the qualifying crime was committed while the immigrant was in the United States. The immigrant and family members will file for the U visa with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the immigrant’s country.

Is a family member of a U visa applicant also eligible to apply for a U visa?

A family member of a U visa applicant cannot apply for a U visa on his or her own behalf. However, the U visa applicant can file a petition on behalf of the family member if: (1) the U visa applicant is less than 21 years of age the applicant can file for their spouse, children, unmarried siblings under 18 and parents; or (2) the U visa applicant is 21 or older the applicant can file for their spouse and the applicant’s children. The applicant must file Form I-918, Supplement A, for their qualifying family members.

Is there a limit on the number of U Visa Immigration can approve?

Immigration may grant no more than 10,000 U visas in any fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). The limit does not apply to spouses, children, parents, and unmarried siblings who are accompanying or following to join the principal alien victim.

If the cap is reached in any fiscal year before all petitions are adjudicated, Immigration will create a waiting list. Applicants placed on the waiting list will be given deferred action (they will be eligible to apply for employment authorization and permitted to travel) until their petitions can be adjudicated after the start of the following fiscal year.


How long can an immigrant have a U Visa?

U visa status cannot exceed four years. After three years an immigrant in U visa status can apply for adjustment of status (green card).

Can an immigrant granted U visa status eventually apply for permanent resident status (green card)?

Yes. The immigrant must have been physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least three years since the date of issuance of the U visa. In addition, Immigration must determine that the immigrant’s continued presence in the United States should be granted on humanitarian grounds in order to keep family unity, or is otherwise in the best interest of the public.

Is there a deadline for submitting a U visa petition?

There is no deadline for immigrants who are applying for U visa relief now. However, there is a deadline of April 14, 2008 for immigrants who have already been granted interim relief to file an application for U visa status under the permanent rules.

Are there filing fees for the U Visa?

No. There is no filing fee for applicants for the U visa or qualifying family members. However, applicants and qualifying family members must pay the fingerprinting fee for each person ages 14-79 included with each petition. The fingerprinting fee is currently $80 per person. Petitioners who are financially unable to pay the fingerprinting services fee may submit an application for a fee waiver.

I was granted interim U visa relief prior to the enactment of final regulation, do I need to file an application now?

Yes. Immigrants granted interim U visa relief should complete and file Form I-918 prior to April 14, 2008. However, an immigrant granted interim relief does not have to file I-918, Supplement B (certification from a qualifying agency).

I am the victim of a crime with a deportation order issued by Immigration. Can I apply for a U-Visa?

Yes. You are still eligible to apply for a U-Visa even if you have a deportation order.

Once the U visa is approved you will need to file a motion to reopen the deportation order with the Immigration Court. Alternatively, if you are about to be ordered deported you must file a Stay to the deportation.




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Filing a U-Visas is complex and requires the assistance by an experienced immigration attorney. Law Offices Jon Jessen LLC can assist you in filing a U-Visa petition with the US Immigration authorities.

Schedule your consultation today. Call 1-203-348-3262 or schedule online


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