If you or a close family member have been a victim of a crime, you may be eligible to apply to obtain a U visa that will allow you to stay in the United States.
Who is eligible to apply for a U visa?
A person who was a victim of a crime that occurred in the United States and suffered a physical, or mental harm, or a combination of both may be eligible to obtain a U visa. The person must have reported the crime and cooperated with the authorities in the prosecution or apprehension of the person who committed the crime against him/her.
What should I do if I was a victim of a crime?
If you were a victim of a crime, make sure you cooperate with the authorities by calling law enforcement to report the crime and make sure you keep as much documentation as possible, related to the incident/injury.
- Give the police as much information as possible about the crime;
- Ask for a copy of the police report;
- Make sure you keep in touch with the authorities and make yourself available to testify against the person who committed the crime against you;
- If you filed a restraining order against the person who hurt you, make sure you keep all court documents and go to the court hearings if your presence is or was needed in court;
- Keep all court documents that are related to the restraining order if you filed one;
- Make sure you take pictures of injuries if you suffered any physical injuries;
- Keep all Doctor’s documents and records of medications and treatments related to the injury you suffered;
- If you suffered mental harm and are seeing a professional for treatment, keep documents;
I don’t have papers, will I get in trouble if I go to court?
The main purpose of granting this type of visas to immigrants who have been victims of crimes is to encourage the victim to come forward and report crimes to the authorities. An immigrant should not get in trouble for reporting a crime and cooperating with the authorities with the apprehension and prosecution of the person who committed the crime against him/her.
How long does it take to get a U visa?
The length of time to obtain a U visa varies depending on how long it takes to complete the first step of the process, which is to obtain a U visa certification signed by the authorities, certifying that the victim did in fact cooperate with the authorities. USCIS average time to approve or deny a U visa is between 7-12 months. However, the time will depend on the amount of applications they have received and also, if USCIS requests more evidence from the applicant to make a decision in the application.