Qualifying criminal activity for U visa eligibility includes: abduction, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, felonious assault, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, perjury, prostitution, rape, sexual assault, torture, trafficking, unlawful criminal restraint and, witness tampering – among others.
An application for U visa status must be accompanied by a certification from a local, state or federal government agency, or a judge presiding over the prosecution at issue, confirming that the applicant is indeed providing the requisite assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the crime at issue. Once approved, a U visa applicant will qualify for employment authorization and eventually permanent resident status. Spouses, young children and even certain parents of eligible applicants may also be qualify for derivative U status, and eventually permanent residence as well.
The first step in seeking U visa status is to prepare Form I-918, and all supporting documentation, including a detailed applicant sworn statement confirming the exact circumstances surrounding the incident where they were a victim and the resulting emotional and physical consequences they suffered.
Due to extended processing times and the limited annual allotment of U visas, applicants may find themselves preliminarily approved, but without being issued the U visa itself. In such a case, a U visa applicant will be eligible to apply for an interim employment authorization document to hold them over until their actual U visa, with accompanying employment authorization, is issued.
Undocumented victims of criminal activity can find comfort in the protections the U visa provide. Unfortunately, the process of coming to terms with the reality that one has been the victim of a specified crime and trusting a law enforcement official in a U visa context is by no means an easy one. But with careful analysis and planning – especially with the support of experienced counsel like Richard Hanus and the Law Offices of Richard Hanus, a qualified U visa applicant not only helps bring justice to the perpetrator and society, but also benefits himself by securing a path toward legalizing their immigration status.