U Visas (Victims of Crimes)
The U visa is an immigration benefit for victims of certain crimes who are currently assisting, or have previously assisted, law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of a crime, or who are likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The U visa provides eligible victims and their families with non-immigrant status in order to temporarily remain in the U.S. If certain conditions are met, an individual with U nonimmigrant status may adjust later to lawful permanent resident status. Congress has limited the number of available U visas to 10,000 per fiscal year.
U visa status depends on a predicate document called the U visa certification, which is signed by the certifying law enforcement agency (usually the agency investigating the crime against the victim). The U visa certification is a necessary piece of evidence that confirms to USCIS that a qualifying crime occurred and that the victim was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
If I did not prosecute the offender can I still qualify for a U Visa?
Yes, it is not a requirement that the victim be prosecuted in order for you to have assisted law enforcement.
How long will it take to get my U visa once we submit the petition?
U visa processing times fluctuate depending on the quantity of submissions to USCIS that year. Typically, U visa processing through the initial grant of work authorization is at least 18 months.
Can I get a work authorization card while I wait for my petition to be approved?
Yes, once USCIS grants you deferred action you are eligible to apply for a work authorization card.
Do I need an attorney?
In order to begin the U visa process one must obtain a U visa Certification signed by local law enforcement, the commonwealth attorney, or a judge. Poarch Law has developed close ties with police departments in the area and routinely works with them on U visa Certifications.
The process of applying can be daunting for the victim of a crime, as it requires a great deal of reflection on the event. Allow us to work with and for you in assembling your petition in a timely and sensitive manner.
Poarch Law’s Work on U Visas
At Poarch Law, we work carefully with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that the agency understands the purpose of U visas and can properly certify the necessary forms. We assure that every application is sufficiently supported to ensure appropriate processing and we walk you and your family through every part of the process from initial application to U visa certification to permanent residence.