U-Visa

Attorney Luis Ruiz

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Houston U-Visa Lawyer

When you or a family member is the victim of criminal activity, it can be difficult to know what steps to take and to understand what relief I available, especially if you are undocumented. The U-Visa is a special type of visa that was created by Congress to help victims of criminal acts obtain lawful status in the United States. The purpose of the U-Visa is to encourage undocumented people to report serious crimes to the Police. Undocumented immigrants are particularly susceptible to being victims and Congress created this pathway to a green card for victims to help police and other law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute serious criminal acts.

You should always hire a knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyer to handle your legal matters, the U-Visa process is very nuanced, complicated, and must be handled properly by the law firm that you hire to help you in the process of obtaining a U-Visa.

What is a U-Visa?

The U-Visa is a visa process where an undocumented immigrant can obtain lawful immigration status if they have been victims of serious crimes who suffered substantial physical or mental abuse and who cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the criminal activity.

Any victim of a qualifying crime is able to apply for a U-Visa so long as they have a signed Supplement B form by the law enforcement agency who investigated or prosecuted the qualifying criminal activity.

Who is eligible for a U-Visa?

If you were the direct victim of a crime, meaning that the crime happened to you, you might qualify to apply for the U-Visa on form I-918.

Example: You were at the gas station pumping gas and you were robbed at gunpoint.

If you were the indirect victim of a crime, meaning that the crime did not happen to you, but you still suffered substantial physical or mental abuse, then you may qualify for a U-Visa.

Example: Your child was a victim of sexual abuse

If you were a bystander, meaning that you were not the victim of the crime, but you still suffered an unusually direct injury as a result of a qualifying crime, then you may qualify for a U-Visa.

Example: You were pregnant and witnessed a qualifying crime happening and suffered a miscarriage as a result.

Certain family members may be eligible to apply as derivatives during the U-Visa application process so that they can also obtain lawful immigration status as well.

Who is eligible for a U-Visa?

To be eligible for a U-Visa as a victim of criminal activity, you must report the criminal activity to law enforcement and you must help in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of what constitutes a qualifying crime under the U-Visa application and what can be considered for U-Visa eligibility.

  • Abduction
  • Abusive Sexual Contact
  • Being Held Hostage
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False Imprisonment
  • Felonious Assault
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
  • Incest
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint

How long will the U-Visa take?

Congress wanted undocumented immigrants to report crimes without the fear of deportation from coming into contact with law enforcement officials. The U-Visa is here to protect you and other victims of crimes by helping you obtain lawful status in the United States. Congress allocated 10,000 U-Visas per year to protect victims and their family members.

Currently, U-Visa cases are severely backlogged and as such you will likely wait 5-10 years in order to obtain the U visa. Recently, the Biden Administration changed the process for U-Visas so that upon an initial review of your Form I-918, as long as it was properly filed by the law firm or immigration lawyer that you hired, you will receive a 4-year employment authorization document that can be renewed until a decision on your application has been made.

When immigration officials approve your U-Visa, you will receive a 4-year U-Visa, after 3 years you will be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status. After being a lawful permanent resident for 5 years you will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Experienced U-Visa Attorney in Baytown and Houston

It is critical to hire the correct U Visa lawyer to help you navigate the complexities of immigration law and the U-visa process. Find an attorney with the legal specialization and experience with U-visas so that you may fix your immigration status, it is the least that can come from being a victim of crimes in the United States. Our office is experienced in working with U-Visa applicants and we are ready and willing to stand by your side as you seek to obtain lawful status for you and your family members.

LUIS RUIZ, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY

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