If you’re the victim of a crime, or have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse while in the United States, you may qualify for a U-visa. U-visas are for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence that occurred in the US. Also, to qualify for a U-visa you will need to assist US law enforcement officers as they investigate the crime(s).
If you want or need a U-visa – for yourself or for a relative – I can help. You can contact me, Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez, to discuss your case, or read on to find out more about getting a U-visa.
Two quick notes:
1: We can meet in-person, on Zoom, or by phone.
2: My legal fees DO include the translations of relevant documents.
How do I get certified for a U-visa?
To qualify for a U-visa you must meet 6 basic qualifications:
- You must be a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
- Because you were a victim of those crimes, you must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse.
- You must have some information about that criminal activity that you can and will provide to law enforcement officers.
- You need to be helpful in assisting law enforcement, or the immigration office must judge that you are likely to be helpful in the prosecution.
- The criminal activity must have occurred in the United States.
- You are otherwise admissible to the United States, or can qualify for an admissibility waiver.
U-visas are also available for the spouses, children, parents, and minor siblings of applicants.
Only 10,000 U-visas are issued every year, but the US receives over 34,000 petitions each year. That backlog continues to grow. It can take up to 18 months for a U-visa to be processed or approved.
U-visa applicants do have options, though. On June 14, 2021, USCIS issued a policy granting deferred action to U-visa applicants and family members on the waiting list. If you are on the waiting list you may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which will allow you to work in the United States temporarily. Deferred action will ensure that you may remain in the United States to work even if your U-visa has not yet been approved. The EAD gives U-visa applicants a kind of “grace period.”
Remaining in the United States on an EAD and deferred status is not automatic. You will have to apply for it.
How much does a U-visa cost?
They are free. U-visas don’t cost anything. There are sometimes fees for biometrics, inadmissibility waivers, and employment authorization for family members. You may be able to get those fees waived, however.
How long do U-visas last?
U-visas last four years. During that time you may apply for an adjustment of status. If you’ve lived in the United States on a U-visa for three years you can apply for a green card.
By the way, travel outside of the United States is risky when you are on a U-visa, because you may not be able to get a return visa when you are ready to re-enter the United States.
You can also request an extension of your U-visa, if an extension becomes necessary.
Getting a U-visa or protecting your legal status in the US is complicated. You can always contact me, Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez, to discuss your case and for help.