The UVisa, also known as the U "nonimmigrant" visa, is a type of visa that is available to certain victims of crimes who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime and who have helped or are willing to help law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The Uvisa was first introduced as part of the “Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act” of 2000.
The U Visa program was created to provide immigration relief for victims of certain crimes, such as trafficking of persons, domestic violence, and other crimes. The UVisa allows victims to stay and work in the United States while they assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
The Uvisa program is a relatively new program and has undergone several changes over the years. Initially, the Uvisa program was only available to victims of trafficking, but it was later expanded to include victims of other crimes, such as domestic violence. In addition, the Uvisa program was initially only available to victims who had been physically present in the United States, but it was later expanded to include victims who were outside the United States and who were willing to come to the United States to assist law enforcement.
The Uvisa program is administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is available to both foreign nationals and lawful permanent residents. To be eligible for a Uvisa, an individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of being a victim of certain crimes. In addition, the individual must provide evidence of psychological harm resulting from the crime by providing a psychological or mental health evaluation conducted by a mental health professional or psychologist.
The process of applying for a Uvisa begins with the individual contacting law enforcement to report the crime and to request assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. Law enforcement will then provide the individual with a certification or a letter of law enforcement support, which the individual can use to apply for a Uvisa. The individual must then complete the Uvisa application and submit it to USCIS along with the certification or letter of law enforcement support. The individual must contact an immigration lawyer for help with the application.
After the Uvisa application is submitted, USCIS will review the application and determine whether the individual is eligible for a Uvisa. If the application is approved, the individual will be granted a Uvisa, which will allow them to stay and work in the United States while they assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
The Uvisa program has been praised for providing immigration relief for victims of certain crimes. However, the Uvisa program has also been criticized for being difficult to navigate and for having long processing times. Despite this, the Uvisa program remains an important resource for victims of certain crimes who are seeking immigration relief.
Overall, the Uvisa is a valuable program that allows victims of certain crimes to stay and work in the United States while they assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The Uvisa is valid for up to four years. After the initial four-year period, the Uvisa holder may apply for a two-year extension, for a total maximum stay of six years. The Uvisa holder may also be eligible to apply for a change of status to another immigration category, if they qualify, such as a Permanent Resident status.
It's important to note that the length of Uvisa validity and the ability to renew or change status is subject to the discretion of USCIS and can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, including the cooperation and progress of the ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution. While Uvisa itself is not a path to Permanent Residence (Green Card), it can provide a temporary immigration relief for victims of certain crimes.
It is possible for U visa holders to apply for a change of status to another immigration category, if they qualify. For example, if a U visa holder marries a U.S. citizen, they may be eligible to apply for a Green Card through the marriage-based immigration process. Additionally, Uvisa holders who have been physically present in the United States for at least 10 years, and meet other qualifications, may be able to apply for cancellation of removal and be granted a Green Card.
To be eligible for a Uvisa, an individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of being a victim of certain crimes, such as:
Trafficking in persons: including forced labor, sex trafficking, and debt bondage
Certain criminal activity: including physical assault, robbery, rape, torture, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, being held hostage, peonage, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, false imprisonment, blackmail, extortion, manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, perjury, or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes.
A Uvisa is not limited to the above-listed crimes, but it's also available to victims of any other similar criminal activity that violates the laws of the United States, or of any state or Indian tribe and the criminal activity affects interstate or foreign commerce, or occurs within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.