In the interest of protecting victims of criminal activity and furthering efforts to prosecute the people who harmed them, Congress created a nonimmigrant visa category that allows qualifying applicants to remain in the U.S. in exchange for assisting law enforcement. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services grants a maximum of 10,000 U visas each year, with many more qualified applicants receiving a bona fide determination that lets them live and work legally in the US while their application is pending.
Applying for a U visa is a multi-step process that imposes a few important obligations on petitioners that an experienced visa attorney could explain in further detail. If you have any questions about how this immigration process works, a St. Louis U visa lawyer could provide the answers and assistance you may need.
U visas are designed to help the victims of qualifying criminal activity who have experienced significant physical or mental harm as a result. When applying for this visa, applicants must consent to providing any information about this crime and/or its perpetrators, and must be willing to help law enforcement with efforts to investigate and/or prosecute the offenders.
Qualifying criminal activity generally means an offense defined as a felony under U.S. federal and/or state law, such as abduction, extortion, foreign labor contracting fraud, involuntary servitude, prostitution, and sex trafficking. To begin the visa application process, petitioners must fill out and submit Form I-918 along with a personal statement about the criminal activity they fell victim to. They may also need to include relevant documentary evidence proving their visa eligibility and admissibility to the United States, and a copy of Form I-918 Supplement B signed by a law enforcement official authorizing that the applicant has been, is being, or will be helpful to investigative or prosecutorial efforts. Applicants who wish to bring immediate family members with them to the U.S. may petition on their behalf for derivative U visas through Supplement A.
There are no fees associated with the initial U nonimmigrant status application, and applicants may request fee waivers for any expenses related to supplementary forms and documents. A St. Louis attorney could help someone through the initial process of applying for a U visa.
Once someone receives a U visa, they will be granted work authorization and admittance to live in the US for four years from the original date of issue. It is possible to seek an extension for a U visa, but only if it is necessary due to a specific request from law enforcement, consular processing delays, or some other exceptional situation.
U visa recipients become eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status if they maintain physical presence in the U.S. for three continuous years while holding a valid U visa. Derivative U visa recipients may also be eligible for Green Cards at this time, as a lawyer in St. Louis could explain.
U visas can be a crucial immigration option for victims of criminal behavior, as it could be a lifeline for them and their family to start a new and safer life in the United States.
A St. Louis U visa lawyer could provide irreplaceable assistance with effectively and efficiently pursuing this nonimmigrant visa option. Call Hacking Immigration Law, LLC today to schedule an initial consultation.