Undocumented aliens may find the U visa as a path to permanent residence if they have credible proof that they have been victims of criminal activity and that they have knowledge of the identity of the person(s) who were the perpetrators and that they have been of help in the investigation and prosecution of the criminal activity that took place in the U.S.
There is no exact definition of the crimes that fit in this category but would normally include such crimes as domestic violence, extortion, felonious assault, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, murder and manslaughter, torture and conspiracy.
VICTIMS WHO QUALIFY
A person who has suffered as a result of a qualifying crime including spouse and children, would be eligible and if the victim was under 21, siblings under age 18, and parents would be included.
PHYSICAL OR MENTAL ABUSE MUST BE SUBSTANTIAL
The injury to the victim must be substantial physical or mental, emotional or psychological, that has impaired the victim. Details of the severe physical or emotional injury and the future impairment of the victim must be demonstrated. Proofs include reports of the police, medical records, social worker reports, and protective orders and photos of the injuries and affidavits of persons who have personal knowledge of what happened.
FILING THE U CLAIM
The victim may file a U claim in removal proceedings as well as outside any proceedings. If there is an Order of Removal, a stay of removal may be applied for.
When the U status is obtained, Immigration will issue an employment authorization document. Even before the U visa is granted, any alien with a bonafide visa petition pending may file for work authorization as well. The U visa normally is approved for 4 years. Family members who are included such as spouses and children under 21, parents and unmarried under 18 siblings may be included as well.
CHANGE OF STATUS TO PERMANENT RESIDENTS
To apply for adjustment to permanent residence, 3 years physical presence in the U.S.
after the U Visa is obtained is required. Physical presence would be broken if the U holder goes out of the U.S. for a single time for more than 90 days or in the aggregate for more than 180 days over this 3 year period.
Even if a family member, spouse, child or parent of the victim has not received permanent residence through the U visa victim, as for example, if the U victim has died, the family member may receive U status by proving extreme hardship to him/her self provided the relationship existed prior to the U visa holder’s obtention of the U visa. Proof would be required that would establish that the removal of the family member would result in a degree of hardship beyond that typically associated with removal.