U Visas for Crime Victims Assisting Law Enforcement
If you are a victim of human trafficking or a violent crime, the U.S. has two special visas for immigrants in your situation. They are:
- U visa for immigrant victims of serious crimes
- T visa for immigrant survivors of human trafficking
Obtaining a U-visa will allow you to temporarily stay in the U.S. and later apply for permanent residency. The purpose of creating the visas is to protect the public from criminal activity; the hope is that victims of these crimes can work with law enforcement to identify, arrest, and convict these criminal offenders.
When an immigrant is approved for a U visa, they can stay in the U.S. for four years, and after three years, they can apply for permanent residency with the help of an LA immigration attorney. It’s advised to hire a U visa attorney in Los Angeles to help you through the process.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) separates U-visa applicants as “direct” victims or an “indirect” victims. Both of these types of victims can contact our Los Angeles immigration visa lawyers for legal help applying for a U visa.
Direct victims are those who have suffered direct and immediate mental or physical abuse as the result of someone’s criminal actions. Indirect victims include certain relatives of direct victims when the direct victim has been killed or incapacitated.
Not all criminal activity qualifies victims for a U-visa. You may qualify for a U-visa if you are the direct or indirect victim of one of the following crimes:
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Assault
- Felonious Assault
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- And more, which are listed on the USCIS website
An important detail to note about U-visas is that in order to receive one, you should provide information that helps law enforcement capture the criminal that affected you. Being useful to law enforcement is crucial in the success of your U-visa application, and the law enforcement official that you worked with should fill out a certification letting the government know of your good deed.
A direct victim for U-visa purposes is defined as someone who suffered direct or so-called “proximate” harm as the result of a qualifying criminal activity. Proximate harm does not have a set definition, but it is understood that the illegal acts of the perpetrator caused harm to the U-visa applicant. This harm must be substantial, and that is judged by the USCIS on a case-by-case basis.
Even under the definition of “direct victim,” the immigrant does not have to suffer physical harm. Attempts, conspiracy, or solicitation to harm qualify as criminal activities for U visa purposes. Some examples of direct victims are listed below:
- A woman was grabbed by a man who attempted to restrain her and force her into his van. She escaped without any bodily damage, but she is undoubtedly traumatized by this attempted kidnapping. This woman could be labeled as a direct victim because she was the victim of attempted kidnapping and suffered emotional harm. Even though the criminal did not succeed in his act, she is still the victim of a crime.
- Women who are survivors of domestic violence can apply for a U visa as direct victims. Domestic violence can be emotional, physical, or a combination of both, and this is a qualifying criminal activity for U visa application.
In some more severe cases, the direct victim of the crime either loses their life or is incapacitated as a result of the crime. Therefore, they cannot help law enforcement. However, their family members can help law enforcement investigate the crime in their loved one’s place. This makes them indirect victims, and they can apply for a U visa through this gateway.
The family members will need to show that they have been helpful, are being helpful, or will be helpful to law enforcement as they pursue their culprit. Seeing a loved one incapacitated because of a criminal act, or losing them entirely, qualifies as substantial harm.
Only specific family members qualify for these kinds of harm, and the eligibility changes depending on the direct victim’s age. For crime victims over the age of 21, indirect victims can be their spouse and their children. For victims under the age of 21, their parents and any unmarried siblings under the age of 18 can be considered indirect victims. Children are considered incapacitated in all cases where they are victims of a crime.
Some examples of indirect victims include:
- A noncitizen’s son was murdered at the age of 20. The loss of anyone’s child would harm their emotional wellbeing, which satisfies the substantial harm requirement. The mother helped the police investigation by giving them information about her son’s activities, social circle, and behavior prior to his death. Information about the events that transpired on the day of the murder would also be helpful to find who the murderer is. Because she was the parent of a deceased victim under 21, she suffered harm as a result of the crime, and she helped in the subsequent investigation, she can qualify for a U visa.
- The father of a child who was molested at daycare is going to be emotionally distraught when he finds out about her sexual abuse. By reporting the incident to police and assisting with the investigation, he qualifies as an indirect victim who is eligible for a U visa.
Contacting Law Enforcement Officials
Many foreigners distrust law enforcement and may be hesitant to speak to law enforcement officers because they fear deportation. However, visiting your local police station and telling them that you have information related to an unsolved case is essential to obtaining your U-visa.
If you are nervous about how to approach officers about what you know, you can seek the advice of an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles. They can assist you in contacting law enforcement so that you don’t put your status at risk.
Even though you are scared, it’s best to contact law enforcement officials as soon as possible after the crime. This way, you can beat the officers to finding out this information through their detective skills. The more sufficient amount of evidence you provide to authorities will make them more likely to give you a certification of helpfulness.
About Alami Law
At The Law Offices of Amira Al-Alami, we understand the daunting obstacles that you may face on your path to citizenship. The legal system is complicated and complex. A small mistake can result in a major setback that limits your chances of starting a new life in the U.S. In most cases, immigration can affect one’s entire life whether it is seeking new opportunities or prioritizing the safety of you and your loved ones. We provide a wide range of services for all immigration matters, such as:
Why choose this firm? As an immigrant herself, Amira can resonate with each and every one of her clients. The foundation of this firm is built on communication and trust. It is both Amira and her staff’s desire to prioritize each case to get immediate results. To schedule a consultation, call 1-626-469-5807 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, we offer a WhatsApp line: 818-434-6241.