U Visa Option for Crime Victims
Undocumented immigrants are one of the most vulnerable populations in the US. Many times they are subjected to abuse by spouses, employers or, random criminals but rarely come forward to report the crime because of their status. The U visa was created as a mechanism to encourage crime victims to report crimes and cooperate with the police regardless of their immigration status. In the end, resulting in safer neighborhoods building trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities. The U visa allows an undocumented person to receive U visa status and work authorization for 4 years. After which they would be eligible to apply for a green card.
In order to be eligible for a U visa, there are two basic requirements. The first requirement is that you must be a victim of a crime that is covered under U visa crimes (such as Domestic Violence, sexual assault, and extortion).
The second requirement is that a law enforcement agency must sign and submit a law enforcement certification on your behalf. The certification must be submitted with the U Visa application. However, it is up to the law enforcement agency to decide whether or not they will honor your request to complete the certification. The final decision of whether the U visa is approved ultimately lies with USCIS officials.
Although there is no time limitation on when a U visa can be filed it is advisable to file it soon after the crime occurs. This will ensure that you have access to evidence, police reports, witnesses, etc., and might encourage law enforcement officials to provide the required certification. You can click here for more information on U visas. If you or someone you know was or may have been a victim of a crime, please contact a legal professional to assess your immigration options and determine if a U visa is a viable option.