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Does reporting a crime jeopardize an immigrant's security?

Readers may be familiar with immigration deportation proceedings being brought against alleged criminal defendants. Yet there is a flip side: even victims of alleged criminal acts might find themselves in hot water with immigration authorities if they report a crime.

Unfortunately, this puts undocumented immigrants into a catch-22: do they offer a statement and/or report a crime, or should they avoid the potentially unfavorable consequences that might come from unwanted police attention? Does reporting a crime come at the potential risk of deportation?

A recent story described the plight of a domestic violence victim. She says that officials were less than helpful in responding to her request, and that her immigrant status possibly complicated matters. As a law firm that focuses on immigration law, we might recommend a U visa for immigrant crime victims. 

Readers may be familiar with the term green cards, which are immigrant visas that grant permanent residence status to their owners. A U visa operates similarly, and is available to domestic violence victims. However, the federal government limits the number of U visas to 10,000 year. The backlog has already overwhelmed that availability, with an estimated 64,000 applications still pending. That translates into a six- or seven-year processing delay.

Although there may be administrative hurdles, our immigration law firm continues to help clients pursue visas or other protections from removal. Notably, a visa applicant might be granted temporary relief while his or her application is pending. In addition, there may be other types of visas or programs under which an individual could qualify.

Source: The New York Times, "Immigrant Crime Victims Seeking Special Visas Find a Tough Path," Liz Robbins, March 8, 2016

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