One of the most vulnerable members of our community are noncitizen victims of crime. They often believe that they will incur immigration consequences if they report their victimization to law enforcement. Moreover, many noncitizens believe that law enforcement officials will not take action on their behalf if they report their victimization due to their immigration status. Often those who victimize the noncitizen, including spouses, family members and employers, tell the victim that they do not have any rights in the United States and that U.S. immigration officers will deport them if they call the police.
Fortunately, the U.S. immigration laws provide protections for victims of qualifying crimes who cooperate with law enforcement or the prosecutor as requested. In fact, the immigration laws provide a path to a lawful immigration status and a waiver for immigration law violations. Even if a noncitizen is in removal (deportation) proceedings, the U visa can provide an avenue to postpone or terminate removal proceedings in meritorious cases. In many cases, the spouse, child, parent, and/or minor sibling of a U nonimmigrant visa applicant may apply for a derivative U nonimmigrant visa.
Upon approval of the U nonimmigrant Visa application, the applicant and qualifying family members will be granted a lawful nonimmigrant status in the United States for at least (4) four years. During this time, the U nonimmigrant can live and work lawfully in the United States. After maintaining the U nonimmigrant status for (3) three years, the U nonimmigrant and their derivative family members can apply for Lawful Permanent Residency.
To be eligible to apply for the U nonimmigrant visa a noncitizen must present evidence of the following:
- You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
- You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
- You have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on your behalf.
- You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf.
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
- You are admissible to the United States. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver.
Noncitizen crime victims and their families have rights and protection under the U.S. Immigration law. If you are the victim of a crime, do not be afraid to call for help. If you have reported your victimization to the police, contact a qualified immigration attorney with knowledge of the immigration and the criminal laws to determine if you and/or your family member is eligible for the U nonimmigrant visa.