In the United States, victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse are eligible for nonimmigrant status. Immigrants can gain a U visa if they work with law enforcement or government officials to help investigate or prosecute criminal activity. For example, an immigrant who is sexually assaulted may be eligible for a U visa if they report the crime to local law enforcement and cooperate with the investigation, helping law enforcement put their assailant behind bars.
U visas help law enforcement investigate and prosecute criminals who engage in domestic abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, and other crimes and were announced with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in October 2000. Since U visas came into existence, however, there have been more approvable petitions than the annual number of visas allowed.
Using Discretion to Solve Problems
As such, there is a growing backlog of U visa petitions, and unfortunately, there has also been a drastic increase in the volume of applications. To address these problems, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will streamline its process for reviewing and granting U visas.
In addition to reviewing petitions that have been placed on the ever-growing waitlist, USCIS will conduct bona fide determinations (BFD) and use its discretion to provide employment authorization documents (EADs) and deferred action to certain applicants with petitions pending.
Now Is the Time to Come Forward
If you have been the victim of a violent or sexual crime or enslaved against your will, please report the crime to your local law enforcement agency. Not only will officers help you get out of an unsafe situation, but they can also certify you to stay in the United States and help you obtain a U visa.
Law enforcement agencies do not want to make your life harder. Instead, they want to catch the person or group of people that harmed you and stop crimes like:
- Hostage situations
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation
- Abusive sexual contact
- Female genital mutilation
- Slave trade
- And more
If you have suffered physical injury or mental anguish at the hands of another, do not suffer in silence. Instead, contact your nearest law enforcement officer and tell them about your situation. If you have helpful information for the authorities, ask about a U visa, and if you need help talking to police officers or other members of law enforcement, contact an experienced immigration attorney to stand by your side.
At the Law Offices of Joyce Komanapalli Jones, we want to be the advocate that helps you overcome abuse and stay in the United States. Our goal is to guide you – compassionately and professionally – through the legal process of immigration.
Attorney Joyce Komanapalli Jones has more than 15 years of experience helping individuals and families like you and yours achieve their goals.
No matter how difficult your situation is, she is ready to listen and help.
Take the first step toward a better life – call our team at (949) 264-0323 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation.