The U-Visa: Undocumented Aliens and Victims of Crimes
One of the biggest issues that face the immigrant community is fear of speaking out against crime. While this fear is understandable, it usually stems from the lack of knowledge about the laws that protect victims of crime.
In October of 2000, Congress created what is now known as the U-Visa under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The purpose of the U-Visa was to encourage victims of crimes to speak out. Specifically, the purpose was to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute certain crimes, and doing so by providing a layer of protection for its victims.
The U-Visa is limited in number each year, and is granted to those victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse. There are several requirements to qualify for the U nonimmigrant visa status:
The applicant must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity that violates the United States laws, or occurred in the United States.
o Example: Abduction, abusive sexual conduct, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, torture, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, trafficking, slave trade, false imprisonment, rape, prostitution, sexual assault.
The Applicant must have suffered a substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity.
The applicant must have information about the criminal activity
The applicant must be willing to be helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
At a glance, the application process seems to be simple. However, the application process is a lengthy one, and requires knowledge of United States immigration laws. While a victim of a crime may have all the qualifications, there are many factors taken into consideration when making a decision. A qualified immigration attorney can help you understand these immigration laws, and how they can affect your case.
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