The U nonimmigrant status is a nonimmigrant (temporary) status that allows non-citizen victims of crime to stay in the United States, obtain employment authorization, obtain permanent resident status, and help certain family members obtain immigrant status as well. As a U visa attorney, I screen all of my clients for the possibility of qualifying for this unique immigration benefit.
What makes the U visa a unique option is that it is available for victims of crime regardless of their current legal status or how they entered the country. It's also available to those who are involved in deportation proceedings.
Although this immigration benefit is commonly referred to as a "U visa" most clients who are in the United States and qualify will not receive a U visa, but rather, they will be considered to be in U nonimmigrant status. This distinction is important because U nonimmigrant status does not allow people to travel. Visas are needed to travel.
U visa lawyers are normally looking at several factors to determine if the client qualifies for U status. These factors include:
1. What is the criminal activity and does it fit the U petition requirements?
2. Has the person suffered substantial physical and/or mental abuse?
3. Has the person been helpful, or will the person be likely to be helpful in the criminal investigation and prosecution of the person who committed that crime?
4. Did the criminal activity violate the laws of the United States?
5. Is the person admissible to the United States?
6. Did the crime occur within U.S. territory?
U visa status is available for both men and women. In fact, our law firm has successfully won cases for male clients. U status is granted to individuals who suffer from a variety of crimes -- it is not limited to victims of domestic violence.
One of the most difficult aspects of obtaining a U visa is that, unlike VAWA cases where individuals can self-petition, the U visa requires certification from a third party. This certification must be included in the petition and must come from a federal, state, or local agency. Individuals who may do this certification include Judges, law enforcement agents, and prosecutors. The certification must state that the individual seeking U status has been helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the criminal investigation or prosecution of the person who committed the crime. When looking at your immigration options, consider meeting with a lawyer who has experience in U status cases. The U status option is often overlooked by lawyers who do not normally practice in this area of the law but can offer a life-changing benefit to you if you qualify.
We have been successful in petitioning for U nonimmigrant status for individuals in a variety of situations. We have represented both men and women in obtaining this immigration benefit and we have extensive experience to help you increase the likelihood of success in this type of petition. If you are interested in finding out if you qualify for U status, please call us for a consultation at (512) 329-2770. Our office is located in Austin, Texas but we serve clients nationwide and offer telephonic consults.