Two visas came into effect and were authorized through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. The two visas are the “U” visa for immigration victims of serious crimes and the “T” visa for victims of severe human trafficking. The visas came to birth as a result of rising public safety concerns, with the idea that foreign victims of crimes should be authorized to stay in the U. S. to give law enforcement officials information necessary so as to apprehend and prosecute criminal offenders.
If you get approval for a U visa, you will be granted legal stay in the U. S. for up to four years which can be extended thereafter depending on what is termed ‘exceptional circumstances’. If you have held the U visa for three years you are eligible to apply for legal permanent residence or a green card.
For you to apply for a U visa you will need to use Form I-918, Petition for U Non-Immigrant Status. Further, you will need to meet the following criteria and provide substantial evidence to the USCIS:
- You must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity. This criminal activity must have happened in the U. S. or violated U. S. law. Victims classified as direct or bystander victims are eligible to apply under certain circumstances. For example, a person who witnessed a murder or a close family member of a murder victim, who was impacted on by the murder, and may have information that is helpful to the law enforcement agencies.
- In the case of the criminal activity, you must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity. Some examples of crimes that qualify for a U visa as criminal activity are:
Violent crimes – murder, manslaughter, robbery
Enslavement crimes – kidnapping, abduction, slavery, human trafficking
Sexual crimes – rape, sexual assault, sexual trafficking
Obstruction of justice crimes – perjury, withholding evidence
Fraud in foreign labor contracting
Crimes need not be completed to qualify; event attempts, conspiracy or solicitation to commit crimes qualify.
- You have useful information in respect of the criminal activity. In the case of persons under the age of sixteen, a parent, counselor or social worker can provide the information in their behalf.
- You will be or have been helpful in bringing the perpetrator of the criminal activity to justice.
- You are admissible to the U. S. or you are applying for a waiver using the Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.
Applications for a U visa can be made from within the U. S. or from a U. S. consulate or embassy outside the country. When filing for a U visa it is advisable that the applicant seek out the advices of an experienced immigration lawyer to assist with the application and give the necessary advice to ensure that the application is successful. If you are in Michigan and qualify for the basic requirement of a U visa, find a Detroit immigration office of a renowned law firm of professionals.