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Upon passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000, the United States Congress established a new category of nonimmigrant permits meant for non-citizen individuals who have suffered criminal abuse in the U.S. and are willing to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of that abuse. Known as U visas, these permits are available in limited supply each year but are nonetheless in relatively high demand.

If you believe you qualify for coverage under this type of permit, getting help from a Washington DC U visa lawyer could significantly boost your prospects of a favorable outcome regarding your application. Once retained, your dedicated immigration visa attorney could work with you to ensure you file all appropriate forms and documentation, clearly establish your eligibility, and minimize the risk of procedural mistakes that could lead to a delay or denial of your application.

How Does Someone Become Eligible for a U Visa?

Under current U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidelines, an applicant must fulfill the following six criteria to qualify for protection through a U visa:

  • They have fallen victim to qualifying criminal activity such as domestic violence, extortion, kidnapping, prostitution, rape, stalking, or trafficking
  • The criminal activity in question occurred within U.S. borders or violated U.S. laws
  • They suffered substantial physical or mental harm because of this criminal activity
  • They have information about that criminal activity or the party who committed it
  • They have already been helpful, are currently helping, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement officials investigating or prosecuting this criminal activity
  • They are admissible based on current immigration regulations, or they have applied for and received a waiver through Form I-192

To begin the application process, the applicant should submit Form I-918, which is a personal statement about the abuse they experienced and their need for protection from further mistreatment. They also need to submit Form I-918 Supplement B, the last of which should be signed by an official of the agency the applicant is helping or will likely help. Applicants outside the United States should submit these forms and documents to the Vermont Service Center and proceed with Consular Processing. This mean may involve at least one interview with a U.S. immigration official at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.

Recipients of this type of a U visa may petition on behalf of their spouse, children, parents, or siblings under age 18 to receive permits with them if they are under 21 themselves, or on behalf of their spouse and children if they are over 21 themselves. A diligent Washington DC attorney could offer further clarification and assistance with every step of the U visa application process.

Bona Fide Determination for U Visa Applications

Guidance issued by USCIS marks the implementation of a new process for these types of permits that will offer significantly more protection to qualified individuals waiting for their applications to be processed and approved. Under the Bona Fida Determination process, applicants who have properly filed Form I-918 and their personal statement, and whose biometrics data has been received may have their petition deemed as bona fide. This grants applicants employment authorization and deferred action until processing on their application concludes.

This change is meant to address the extensive wait times for U visas caused by the current limit of 10,000 total issued per fiscal year. This limitation has left applicants in need of protection for up to five years while waiting for a final verdict. This change applies to all currently pending applications as well as all applications filed after June 14, 2021. A lawyer in Washington DC could determine how these legal changes could impact a particular U visa case.

Seek Help from a Washington DC U Visa Attorney Now

This type of permit could be a crucial lifeline for people threatened by criminal activity who are not currently lawful permanent U.S. residents. Recent policy changes have also been made to address the lengthy processing delays that applicants have experienced over the past several years.

A Washington DC U visa lawyer’s assistance could prove even more essential due to the recent changes to ensure that your application is genuinely considered for approval. A caring Hacking Immigration Law, LLC attorney could help you maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. Call today for a consultation to learn more about your unique options.

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