Undocumented immigrants in New York might be eligible for U visas and work permits when they have been the victims of certain types of crimes. A U visa is a special type of nonimmigrant visa that might be granted to a crime victim who reports what happened to him or her and cooperates with the police and prosecutor in investigating and prosecuting the case. A New York immigration lawyer at Oltarsh & Associates can help immigrants who have been the victims of crimes apply for a U visa and a New York work permit.
New Policy Announced
On June 14, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS announced a new immigration policy to provide expanded access to crime victims who apply for U visas to obtain work permits and relief from deportation and removal proceedings while their cases are pending. USCIS stated that a process will be created to allow U visa applicants to be granted work permits when they make good faith claims of being the victims of crimes.
The new policy comes as an effort under the Biden administration to reform the immigration system. Under the former president, more U visa applicants were deported despite their efforts to assist prosecutors and police with criminal prosecutions.
Each year, an average of 10,000 U visas are issued to crime victims who help police and prosecutors investigate and prosecute criminal cases against the perpetrators. While applicants who are approved for U visas have previously been eligible for work permits and the opportunity to apply for green cards after three years, applicants have had to wait up to five years before receiving a New York work permit. The new policy will allow U visa applicants to receive work authorization much faster before their visa applications have been approved. As of Dec. 2020, USCIS had almost 269,000 applications for U visas under consideration.
This new policy is good news for many immigrants in New York. As crime rates continue to increase, many undocumented immigrants have been the victims of serious criminal offenses. Immigrants who have been the victims of qualifying crimes who come forward to report the offenses and help the police and prosecutors might be eligible for U visas and work authorization while being protected from removal proceedings. The experienced immigration attorneys at Oltarsh & Associates have helped many immigrants successfully apply for U visas and work authorizations.
To be eligible for a U visa, an immigrant must meet the following criteria:
- Be a victim of a qualifying crime
- Have suffered significant physical or mental abuse as a result of the qualifying crime
- Have information about the crime
- Were helpful or are likely to be helpful to the police and prosecutors investigating and prosecuting the perpetrator
- Are admissible or secure a waiver of inadmissibility
Some of the qualifying criminal offenses include the following:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault or rape
- Extortion or blackmail
- Sexual exploitation
- Involuntary servitude or slave trade
- Abduction or kidnapping
- Unlawful criminal restraint
- Witness tampering
- Felony assault
- Female genital mutilation
- Obstruction of justice or perjury
- Fraudulent contract for foreign labor
- Other similar crimes
The crime must have occurred within the U.S. to qualify. Attempts of these offenses or conspiracies to commit them also qualify.
Victims of qualifying crimes who are located both within the U.S. and outside of it can apply for U visas. If their visas are granted, certain immediate family members can also receive derivative U visas. The petitioner must petition for their family members to receive derivative U visas either at the time that they apply for their U visas or afterward. Eligible family members include the following:
- If under age 21, spouse, parents, children, and unmarried siblings who are younger than 18
Get Help From a New York Immigration Lawyer
U visas help the government to catch criminals and prevent more people from being victimized. Without the willingness of undocumented immigrants to come forward and report crimes of which they have been victims, many cases would remain undetected and unsolved. The new immigration policy announced by the USCIS to allow U visa applicants to secure work permits while their visa cases are pending should help many to make ends meet while they remain in the U.S. The experienced immigration attorneys at Oltarsh & Associates can help you apply for a U visa and a work permit. If you require any immigration services, contact Oltarsh & Associates today at (212) 944-9420.