U Visas for Crime Victims Assisting Law Enforcement
Obtaining a visa is a very competitive and lengthy process, and there are many different routes you can take to achieve permanent residency. Many choose to hire an immigration visa lawyer Los Angeles immigrants trust to be well-versed in immigration law. By working with an immigration attorney, you will have an advantage compared to other applicants because your attorney can inform you of shortcuts and loopholes in the visa process.
Something your immigration lawyer in Los Angeles might recommend is applying for a visa for victims of crimes. If you have been a victim of certain crimes, you can receive a visa that may lead to a green card if you help law enforcement solve a case.
Due to your status as an immigrant, you may be hesitant to speak to law enforcement. Criminals recognize this and prey on it, pulling you into situations you would otherwise never be in. If you can prove you were a victim of a crime and help bring that same perpetrator to justice, you can be given a special kind of visa.
Through these visas, you will be able to receive temporary residency (that can be extended), as well as absolvement of any crimes you may have committed while under the perpetrator’s influence or force.
Different crimes warrant different visa categories, and specifications on visas for victims of crimes are listed below.
A T visa lawyer Los Angeles can tell you that undocumented immigrants also fall victim to human trafficking. Victims of “severe forms of human trafficking” are often protected under U.S. immigration law by the Victims of Trafficking in Persons (T) nonimmigrant visa. By obtaining this kind of visa, victims can remain in the U.S. to assist in putting their human traffickers behind bars.
By agreeing to help law enforcement find your human traffickers, you are eligible for lawful status, employment authorization, and a potential path to permanent residency.
If you have been the victim of spousal abuse or child abuse, you may find relief through the Violence Against Women Act, which grants immigrants eligibility to self-petition for a visa. A VAWA visa lawyer in Los Angeles can give you more information on the protections you are given regarding these kinds of visas.
A U Visa is granted to immigrant victims who are helpful to law enforcement in a criminal investigation or prosecution. Not all crimes qualify you for a U Visa, and you must show that you have suffered physically and/or mentally as the result of the crime.
If you are a victim of any of the following crimes, you may be eligible for a U Visa:
- Violent crimes – attempted murder, robbery, felonious assault, stalking, and domestic violence.
- Enslavement crimes – kidnapping, being held hostage, forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, and indentured or debt servitude
- Sexual crimes – rape, incest, sexual trafficking, sexual assault, prostitution, sexual exploitation, and female genital mutilation.
- Obstruction of justice crimes – perjury, witness tampering, withholding evidence
Substantial Physical or Mental Abuse
Just being a victim of a crime is not enough to qualify for a U Visa. You must also prove that the crime resulted in substantial physical or mental abuse. For the abuse to be considered substantial, the immigration courts will look at the severity of your injuries, the length of time in which the abuse occurred, and how likely you are to suffer from long-lasting or permanent harm.
Your U visa attorney Los Angeles will help you gather evidence of your physical and mental harm, including medical records, photographs, statements from medical and psychological professionals, and affidavits. The courts will also ask you to provide a personal statement on the effects the crime had on you, which your visa attorney for victims of crimes in Los Angeles can assist you with.
Assisting Law Enforcement
Justice is one of the pillars of the U.S., and helping law enforcement solve a crime is valued by the immigration courts. While many foreigners may fear speaking to the police due to fear of deportation, cultural differences, and language barriers, having an immigration attorney in Los Angeles on your side will help you push your application for a U visa.
The information you give to law enforcement must be credible and reliable. A police officer must certify your petition for a U visa, and they must also attest to the fact that you were a victim of a qualifying crime and that you have helped, will help, or are currently helping the investigation. Once you have helped the police, you will receive a certification of helpfulness.
The sooner in the investigation you help law enforcement, the stronger your case for a U visa is, so don’t sit on the information for too long.
Asking an Immigration Lawyer for Assistance
It’s normal to feel nervous about talking to law enforcement officers, but an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles can help guide you through the U visa process. They can further explain which kind of visa you are most eligible for, and the pathway on how to get it.