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Understanding more about U nonimmigrant status

In our last post, we spent some time discussing how those looking to secure a U-visa will unfortunately encounter a significant delay given that the annual cap is only 10,000 and that the waiting list stood at roughly 64,000 applications as of September.

In keeping with this prior discussion, today's post will provide some basic background information on the U-visa. Our purpose in doing so is to shed some light on why it is that so many people are looking to secure this life changing -- and potentially lifesaving -- document. 

Who is the U-visa designed to protect?

U-visas are reserved for those individuals who have been victimized by some form of physical or mental abuse, and who assist law enforcement officials with the investigation or prosecution of unlawful activity.

Those granted U nonimmigrant status can stay in the country for four years and may apply for a green card if they meet certain criteria.

How long has the U-visa program been in existence?

The U-visa program came into existence with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act passed by Congress back in 2000.  

Who exactly is eligible for a U-visa?

As you can probably guess, the list of criteria that must be satisfied in order to be considered eligible for a U-visa is rather extensive. Indeed, the requirements as set forth by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services include:

  • The visa applicant must have been victimized by qualifying criminal activity
  • The qualifying criminal activity must have resulted in substantial mental or physical abuse
  • The visa applicant -- or a family member, guardian or friend if the visa applicant is under 16 or disabled -- has valuable information about the qualifying criminal activity
  • The visa applicant has proven helpful, is currently helpful or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the actors committing the qualifying criminal activity
  • The qualifying criminal activity either violated U.S. laws or was committed on U.S. soil
  • The visa applicant is otherwise admissible to the U.S.

We'll continue this discussion in our next post. If you have questions about U-visas or any other type of visa, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more.

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