Central Florida U Visa Attorneys
Experienced Representation for Crime Victims
The United States extends immigration relief to victims of serious crimes. If you are a crime victim that has suffered physical or mental abuse, you may qualify for a U visa. This unique visa allows you to live and work in the United States if you can provide useful information to law enforcement officials. U visas are valid for up to 4 years, and beneficiaries can apply for lawful permanent resident cards if they meet physical and continuous presence requirements.
Our U visa lawyers at Central Florida Immigration Attorneys can help you evaluate your immigration options in the wake of a serious crime. If we determine that you are likely eligible for a U visa, we can assist you with the application process and serve as your advocate in all communications with law enforcement agencies and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Eligibility Requirements for U Visas
In order to qualify for a U visa, you must have been the victim of a qualifying criminal activity. In some situations, witnesses to crimes and loved ones of victims can also qualify for U visas. For example, if someone is murdered, their immigrant loved one may qualify for a U visa if they can provide useful information to law enforcement.
Qualifying criminal activities include:
- Violent crimes, including murder, attempted murder, robbery, felonious assault, and domestic violence
- Sexual crimes, including rape, trafficking, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation
- Enslavement crimes, including abduction, criminal restraint, being held hostage, false imprisonment, and indentured servitude
- Obstruction of justice crimes, including witness tampering, withholding of evidence, and perjury
- Fraud in foreign labor contracting
Victims must also have suffered serious physical or mental anguish as a result of the qualifying crime. To prove sufficient physical or mental suffering to USCIS, you will need to submit extensive documentation that can include medical records and affidavits. USCIS officials will consider whether the abuse will confer long-term harm. Relatively minor injuries will generally not satisfy this requirement. This requirement also does not necessarily apply to witnesses or loved ones that can provide helpful information to law enforcement.
To successfully obtain a U visa, a law enforcement agency will need to attest that you were the victim of a qualifying crime, cooperated with an official investigation, and provided useful information. Any law enforcement agency involved with the investigation can provide this attestation. Any information that can lead to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the criminal offender can compel a law enforcement agency to provide an attestation. However, no agency is obligated to provide an attestation.
Benefits of U Visas
U visas allow you to remain in the United States for up to 4 years. After receiving your visa, you will be able to obtain a 4-year work permit that enables you to work practically anywhere in the country.
U visa beneficiaries can also facilitate derivative U visas for certain family members. U visa recipients can typically obtain visas for their parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21. If a U visa recipient is less than 21 years old, they can also potentially procure visas for any siblings that are under 18 years old.
Once a recipient has had their U visa for at least 3 years, they can apply for a lawful permanent resident card that confers lawful permanent residency. To obtain a lawful permanent resident card through this method, you must maintain continuous presence in the United States during the 3-year waiting period. This means you may not leave the country for more than 90 days at a time or more than 180 days in total unless you receive special permission.
Our U visa attorneys can help you secure a certificate of helpfulness and assist you in obtaining a lawful permanent resident card. We understand that speaking with law enforcement can be intimidating if you do not currently have legal status, but we can serve as your guide and advocate in each step of the process.