The U-Visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to people who have been victims of certain crimes and were helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
The criminal activity must be on the list of crimes designated by law. Most violent crimes are included, such as felonious assault and rape. A recent addition to the list is "Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting." For a full list of the qualifying crimes, please see the USCIS page on U-Visas.
A U-Visa application requires a USCIS certification form to be completed by a law enforcement agency that certifies the applicant was a victim of criminal activity and that he or she was helpful to the investigation or prosecution. The law enforcement agency can be police, prosecutors, child welfare departments — any state agency that investigates criminal activity. It is important to note that an arrest or successful prosecution of a suspect is NOT required for a U-Visa application to be approvable.
If approved, the applicant receives U-Visa nonimmigrant status for four years and receives employment authorization. Certain family members are eligible to be included in the application as derivatives. After continuously residing in the U.S. for three years, the immigrant is eligible to file for a green card.
We welcome you to contact the Brian M. Wang | Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP to schedule a consultation about how we may be of service in your immigration matter. Based in the Albany, NY Capital District area, we assist clients throughout New York, in all 50 states, and worldwide with United States immigration law.