Word about the U Visa is traveling fast. What may have been the worst day in an undocumented (or documented) victim's life may turn out to also be the best day.
The U Visa was enacted to encourage undocumented victims of crimes to come forward to help law enforcement in the prosecution of criminals. In the past, many undocumented persons were afraid to come forward, afraid to contact the police to report a crime, and afraid of our legal system because of their undocumented status. Undocumented victims thought that by coming forward to report a crime, they might be putting themselves or their families in jeopardy. Some undocumented parents had US citizen children who were sick and receiving medical treatment, and feared that if they reported a crime, the parents might be deported/removed from the US themselves.
Failure to report a crime affects us all. Encouraging everyone to come forward and report crimes is in the best interests of our communities. We all need to work together to ensure that criminals are taken off the streets of cour communities. The U- Visa encourages anyone who has been the victim of a crime to come forward, without the fear of deportation from our country.
The U Visa gives victims temporary legal status and Employment Authorization cards (which in turn allows a person to obtain a Social Security number and state driver's license) for up to 4 years, with the ability to apply for Permanent Residency (Green Card status after 3 years).
Congress has capped the number of U Visas which can be issued annually at 10,000, not including family members.
Victims may be documented or undocumented; victms may have prior orders of removal or deportation; and victims may be convicted of prior minor offenses themselves. The U Visa will forgive a previous deportation order, and will forgive someone who has left and entered the country illegally. Family members who may also be included are spouses, children, unmarried sisters and brothers under 18, mothers, fathers, stepparents and adoptive parents, and even those living in another country.
The U Visa is designed to help victims who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to a criminal activity in a number of crimes of violence including most sexual crimes, perjury, blackmail, and assault crimes, amongst others. The U Visa also helps to make our commuities safer from crime.
The victim must be willing to try to assist local law enforcement and the crime must have ocurred in the US or in a US territory, or violated US laws.
Since 2009, US Citizenship and Immigration Services has a 77% approval rate for U Visas.
I encourae anyone who has been the victim of a crime, to come forward, report the crime, and consider filiing for a U Visa, no matter how old the crime may be, no matter whether the crime is still open, or a conviction was reached.