U Visas – Status for Victims
The U Nonimmigrant Visa (“U Visa”) program is intended to protect men, women, and children who have been the victims of certain violent or financial crimes.
The program’s goal is to help law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute crimes, while at the same time, offer protection to victims who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse.
Under the U Visa program, the victim not only stands to benefit from the protection of legal status, but in many cases, their immediate family members may also be eligible to receive a U Visa.
One of the many benefits of a U Visa includes temporary legal status that gives the U Visa holder to ability to work. In Virginia, U Visa holders are also eligible for their driver’s license and a social security number. Another important benefit of the program is that it creates a pathway to citizenship. Those who receive a U Visa may be eligible for apply for their green card after three years and apply for citizenship five years after holding their green card.
You and your family may be eligible for a U Visa if:
- You were the victim of certain violent or financial crimes;
- You suffered substantial physical or mental abuse;
- You were cooperative with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and
- The crime violated the law and occurred in the United States
Obtaining a U Visa is a multi-step process. Law enforcement must first certify that an individual has been the victim of a crime and that the victim was cooperative in the investigation of that crime. If the case is certified, then a series of applications are prepared and filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
VAWA – Status for Victims
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protection to those who have been the victim of abuse at the hands of their U.S. citizen or green card holder immediate family members. VAWA protects victims by allowing them to file a petition for themselves without the abuser’s knowledge. This process allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser.
You may be eligible for VAWA relief if you have good moral character and have:
- Suffered battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of a U.S. citizen spouse or spouse holding a green card while you resided with him or her;
- Suffered battery or extreme cruelty at the hands of a U.S. citizen son or daughter while you resided with him or her;
- Are an unmarried child under 21 years old who has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen parent or parent holding a green card while you resided with him or her. In some situations, you may be able to file after turning 21 years old.
Obtaining VAWA relief is a multi-step process. Evidence and documents must first be gathered to support relief, followed by the submission of a series of applications with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
If you believe you may qualify, our experienced legal team can guide you through the application process. Call us today at (540) 358-5593 to reserve a free consultation.