Congress created the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act to assist victims of certain serious crimes who have cooperated with authorities in the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator, and who have suffered physical and/or phycological damage as a result of the qualifying crime.
Form I-918A and Form I918B
As the victim of a serious crime you may be eligible to apply for a U-Visa.
A U-Visa applies to immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, who are the victims of certain serious crimes and who have cooperated with authorities in the prosecution of the perpetrator.
An immigrant granted U-Visa status is permitted to legally reside and work in the United States. Upon approval a U-Visa is issued for a period of four years. After three years the immigrant may file for a Green Card.
U-Visa status may also extend to the spouse, children and sometimes parents of the victim. It also offers forgiveness for certain criminal convictions (committed by either the victim or by the protected family members of the victim), which would otherwise prevent an immigrant from eligibility for a Green Card.
Read the questions listed below to obtain more information.
The law gives law enforcement agencies the ability to investigate and prosecute certain types of criminal cases, including: domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes while, at the same time, offering protection to victims of such crimes. The law also helps law enforcement agencies to provide assistance to immigrants who are victims of crime.
A U-Visa is available to illegal immigrants who have met each of the five points below:
1.Has been the victim of one of the following crimes;
Abusive Sexual Contact
Obstruction of Justice
Unlawful Criminal Restraint
Female Genital Mutilation
Fraud in Foreign Labor
Attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above crimes
Other Related Crimes
Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar
2. And; has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of one of the above crimes; and
3. Has useful information concerning the crime which occurred; and
4. Has helped, or is likely to help, in the investigation or prosecution of the crime, and
5. The crime committed violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States.
1. Obtain a law enforcement certification (Form I-918B) before filing a U-Visa.
2. Form( I-918A).
3. Waiver Form (I-192) if you entered illegally, have accrued illegal presence, or expedited removal order.
3. Submit copy of current passport (with English translation if necessary)
4. Submit copy of birth certificate (with English translation if necessary)
5. Police and/or Court documents or reports if available (orders of protection, restraining orders etc.)
6. Victim psychological reports (if available)
7. Letter from Domestic Violence Crisis Center, counselor or therapist (if available)
8. A sworn statement from the victim detailing the crime and the physical and/or emotional impact of the crime on the victim.
*All U-Visas must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at the Vermont Service Center.
Please note that the qualifying U-Visa applicant will automatically receive a work card. This document is needed to apply for a social security number. All derivative applicants (spouse, parent or child) must file Form (I-765) if they wish to receive a work card and thereby a social security number.
What is a law enforcement certification?
An immigrant who is the victim of one of the listed crimes must obtain a certification from
• a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency
• or a prosecutor, judge or other authority, which is responsible for the investigation or prosecution of the crime
• other agencies such as child protective services,
• the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and
• the U.S. Department of Labor can also issue a certification.
Is there a form for the law enforcement certification?
Yes, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918, Supplement B). This USCIS form can be downloaded and printed from the USCIS official website. It must be completed and signed by the agency or authority responsible for the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
Can anyone who is employed by the agency or authority responsible for the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying crime complete and sign Form I-918B?
No. The person completing and signing the I-918B must either be:
(1) the head of the agency; or
(2) a supervisor designated by the agency and authorized to issue a certification on behalf of the agency.
Yes. Immigrants, who are victims of a qualifying crime, and their family members, can apply for a U visa either from outside the United States, as long as the qualifying crime was committed while the immigrant was in the United States. The immigrant and family members will file for the U-Visa with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the immigrant’s country.
A family member of a U-Visa applicant cannot apply for a U-Visa on his or her own behalf. However, the U-Visa applicant can file a petition (Form I-918) on behalf of the family member if:
(1) the U-Visa applicant is less than 21 years of age the applicant can file for their spouse, children, unmarried siblings under 18 and parents; or
(2) the U-Visa applicant is 21 or older the applicant can file for their spouse and the applicant’s children. The applicant must file Form I-918, Supplement A, for their qualifying family members.
Immigration may grant no more than 10,000 U visas in any fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). The limit does not apply to spouses, children, parents, and unmarried siblings who are accompanying or following to join the principal alien victim. If the cap is reached in any fiscal year before all petitions are adjudicated, USCIS will create a waiting list. Applicants placed on the waiting list will be given deferred action (they will be eligible to apply for employment authorization and permitted to travel) until their petitions can be adjudicated after the start of the following fiscal year.
U-Visa status cannot exceed four years. After three years an immigrant in U-Visa status may apply for a Green Card. Form (I-485). Remember that the U-Visa is the foundation that permits you to apply for a Green Card. At this time, USCIS will review and determine your individual eligibility to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder).
There is no deadline for immigrants who are applying for U-Visa relief now. However, there was a deadline of April 14, 2008 for immigrants who had already been granted interim relief to file an application for U-Visa status under the permanent rules.
No. There is no filing fee for applicants for the U-Visa or qualifying family members. There is however a $585 filing fee for the I1-92 waiver if you are required to file a waiver.
Immigrants granted interim U-Visa relief needed to complete and file Form I-918 prior to April 14, 2008. However, an immigrant granted interim relief did not have to file I-918, Supplement B (certification from a qualifying agency).
Yes. If you meet all other eligibility requirement for a U-Visa, a deportation order is not considered a bar to filing a U-Visa.
If your U-Visa is approved you will need to file a Motion to Reopen your deportation order with the Immigration Court. If you do not have grounds to file a Motion to Reopen with the Immigration Court then you will have to file a Joint Motion to Reopen with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Alternatively, if you are about to be ordered deported you must file a Stay to the deportation.
Yes, you can apply for a U-Visa. You must disclose the Expedited Removal on the application form and file Waiver Form (I-192).
Yes, if you are the victim of a qualifying crime, you can still apply for a U-Visa even if you have a criminal record. However, it is strongly advisable to consult with an Immigration Attorney before filing. Please have Court Disposition documents pertaining to your criminal history ready for the Attorney to review.
Yes, if you are the victim of a qualifying crime, your spouse, parent or child can still apply for a U-Visa even if they have a criminal record. However, it is strongly advisable to consult with an Immigration Attorney before filing. Please have Court Disposition documents pertaining to their criminal history ready for an Attorney to review.
No. Your abusive spouse is not entitled to derivative U-Visa Status through your U-Visa application.
Yes. Your new spouse is eligible to apply for U-Visa derivative status so long as you are still in U-Visa status and the marriage to your spouse occurred before you filed the U-Visa application. If the date of your marriage occurred after you filed the U-Visa application your spouse will have to wait until you have filed a Form I-485 application for your Green Card, or your Green Card has been approved. Your spouse will then need to file Form I-929. If the I-929 is approved then your spouse can file directly for the Green Card (Form I-485).
No, you are not eligible to apply for a U-Visa. The U-Visa application process requires significant supporting evidence and documentation. Both Police and Immigration Officers are seasoned investors and have a high success rate uncovering fraudulent applications. The consequence for making a false claim can be very serious. This is not an advisable avenue to consider.
No. The crime must have occurred within the United States. However, under very limited circumstances, you may be eligible to file for political asylum if you were a victim of domestic violence in your country.
Yes. The immigrant must have been physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least three years since the date of issuance of the U-Visa. In addition, USCIS must determine that the immigrant’s continued presence in the United States should be granted on humanitarian grounds in order to keep family unity, or it is otherwise in the best interest of the public. Form (I-485). *Remember that the U-Visa is the foundation that permits you to apply for a Green Card. At this time, USCIS will review and determine your individual eligibility to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder).
Filing a U-Visas can be complex and generally requires the assistance by an experienced immigration attorney. Law Offices Jon Jessen LLC can assist you in filing a U-Visa petition with the U.S. Immigration authorities.
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