U Visa Lawyer in South Florida
Assisting Victims of Crime in St. Lucie County, Martin County, and Beyond
In 2000, the United States passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act to support law enforcement’s investigations and protect victims of certain crimes. One aspect of this legislation is the U Visa, which grants nonimmigrant status to people who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of crime, so long as they reasonably assist the police in their efforts to find and prosecute criminals.
At The Gaston Law Firm, P.A., we are deeply passionate about playing a role in these efforts. If you have suffered from criminal activity and you want to seek safety and security in the U.S., we can help you assess your options and, if you qualify, obtain a U Visa.
U Visa Requirements
While you can apply for U nonimmigrant status whether or not you are in the United States, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- You suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of a qualifying criminal activity that occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws.
- You can or will use your information about the criminal activity to assist law enforcement. A parent or guardian can do this on your behalf if you are under 16 or have a disability.
- You are admissible to the U.S. (or you file a waiver).
Depending on your age and their relationship to you, your family members may also qualify for a derivative U Visa. If you are under 21, your spouse, children, parents, and unmarried siblings (under 18) may qualify. If you are 21 or older, only your spouse and children can qualify. While USCIS places a cap (typically 10,000) on U Visas distributed each year, there is no limit to how many qualifying family members can obtain derivative U Visas.
U Visa: Your Path to Citizenship
The U Visa grants nonimmigrant (temporary) status that lasts for 4 years and grants automatic employment authorization. You may be able to extend the visa under certain qualifying circumstances, but many choose to apply for a green card (permanent residency) instead.
Generally, you (or a qualifying family member) can apply for a green card if you/they:
- Have resided in the U.S. for three continuous years as a U Visa holder; and
- Have reasonably cooperated with law enforcement.
Like T Visas, U Visas provide relief from certain grounds of inadmissibility. In other words, you may be able to attain certain benefits or adjust your status even if immigration violations or general characteristics would normally render you ineligible.
The major benefit of permanent residency is the opportunity to naturalize (i.e. become a citizen). This process takes multiple years and requires strict compliance with immigration laws. No matter what stage of the process you are currently handling, The Gaston Law Firm, P.A. can step in and provide high-quality assistance with both urgency and attention to detail.
Contact Our South Florida Team Today
We are proud to assist immigrants from all around the world and with all kinds of histories. If you believe your future is in the United States, we can do everything in our personal and professional power to help you accomplish your immigration goals. You can trust that we are firmly committed to both your short- and long-term wellbeing.