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What you may not know about U visas

Undocumented immigrants living in the United States are vulnerable to attack from many different avenues. Not only do some employers try to take advantage of them with harsh work conditions and lower wages, but they are often victims of violent crime that go unreported to the police because of fear of deportation. However, with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000, Congress encouraged more victims to come forward and report crimes, by providing them added protections from deportation.

What protection you might ask do you have from being deported if you report this crime to the police? First , any person who is a victim of crime in the United States has a right to police reporting and protection regardless of their immigration status in the United States. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act created availability of a separate non-immigrant visa category for victims of certain crimes that have assisted law enforcement in the investigation OR prosecution of that crime. This is known as the "U" non-immigrant visa. If you have been a victim of certain crimes in the United States and you reported it to police, you may be eligible to apply for this type of visa.

There is a long list of qualifying crimes for U visa purposes including battery, assault and domestic violence to name a few. Most people typically think of violent crimes but even certain workplace violations may qualify someone for a U visa, if reported to the appropriate agency. In fact, The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, signed by President Obama added two new crimes to the original statutory list for U non-immigrant eligibility which include "stalking" and "fraud in foreign labor contracting," a well as any crimes substantially similar to those two.

You can apply for a U visa from both inside and outside of the United States, and there is no cutoff date for when the crime may have occurred. If your application for U nonimmigrant status is approved, you are given a visa to stay in the United States that allows you to live and work legally without fear of deportation. After three years of having the U visa you can then apply to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident, and become a Green Card holder!

Maney | Gordon | Zeller, P.A. - Tampa Immigration Lawyer
Located at 101 East Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 1700, Tampa, FL 33602.
Phone: (813) 221-1366.