Domestic violence is a hard reality for many individuals. And it transcends borders, race, and economic background. According to the National Organization for Women (NOW), nearly 50% of immigrant women are victims of abuse.
A skilled immigration law firm can help people escaping domestic violence by helping them apply for a U visa. A U visa provides a legal path to residency for those needing safety from their abuser.
What Is the U Visa?
The U visa, created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) in 2000, is a nonimmigrant visa (a visa for foreign nationals who need to escape their country temporarily) created for victims of certain crimes. These crimes include domestic violence, if the person has suffered mental or physical abuse and is willing to assist law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting the crime.
How to Qualify for the U Visa
People looking to receive a U visa must meet certain criteria set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to qualify:
- Crime must qualify: The most significant factor in receiving a U visa is whether the person applying was the victim of a qualifying crime, like domestic violence.
- Victim of severe mental and physical abuse: Next, the applicant must show that they underwent mental and/or physical abuse due to the crime.
- Working with law enforcement: Finally, to qualify for a U visa, an applicant must work with law enforcement agencies by providing information about the criminal activity.
What Are the Benefits of a U Visa?
For an immigrant trying to escape domestic violence, there are many benefits that come with obtaining a U visa.
- Obtaining legal employment authorization: After receiving a U Visa, an applicant gets legal nonimmigrant status for four years. During this time, they can work and live in the United States.
- A better path to permanent residency: Successful U visa applicants may apply for permanent residency after holding the U visa for three years and meeting additional requirements such as continuous physical presence in the US.
- Safety from deportation: Even when a U visa application is pending, the applicant is generally still protected from most cases of deportation.
When an Immigration Law Firm Steps In
The process of obtaining a U visa is complicated and time-consuming. The guidance of an experienced immigration law firm ensures an accurate and quick U visa application.
- Legal expertise: Immigration attorneys are highly knowledgeable in the intricacies of U visa applications. They will ensure that everything is filed correctly, which increases the chances and speed of approval.
- Empowering applicants: When an immigration law firm educates an abuse survivor about their rights and the U visa application process, it empowers them to take control of their situation and seek the safety they deserve.
Choosing the Right Immigration Attorney
To learn more about your rights or to start the U visa process, please do not hesitate to contact Mark E. Jacobs Attorney and Counselor at Law. We can help you get the representation you need and the freedom you deserve.