Chicagoans who are victims of certain types of crimes may be eligible for a special type of nonimmigrant visa called a U visa. This visa is designed for crime victims so that they can remain in the U.S. and help law enforcement and prosecution officials with the criminal cases against the perpetrators.
There are numerous crimes for which victims may be eligible for this special visa. If a person holds a U nonimmigrant visa for three years and has been helpful to the prosecution, he or she may then be eligible to apply for a green card to obtain permanent resident status. The best immigration lawyers may help crime victims with securing U visas for themselves and for their dependents.
Eligibility for U Visas
Under the Victims of Violence and Trafficking Act, immigrants may be eligible for U visas if the crime was one that qualifies under the law and they have suffered significant mental or physical abuse as a result of the criminal event. They must also have information about the crime and be helpful or willing to be helpful to law enforcement officers and prosecutors who are involved in the cases. The crime must have violated U.S. laws or have been committed inside of the U.S. Finally, immigrants must be admissible to the U.S., or they must apply for a waiver of inadmissibility.
Many different crimes of violence and assaults qualify under the law. Victims of various sexual crimes such as assault, exploitation, rape and forced prostitution are eligible. Victims of domestic violence, abduction, human trafficking and others are also eligible. Other qualifying crimes include torture, slave trade, witness tampering, manslaughter, and murder, among others. The best immigration lawyers can advise immigrants about whether or not the crimes of which they were victims might qualify.
Derivative U Visas
Certain family members may also qualify for derivative U visas after the crime victim applies for and is approved for his or her own. For derivative U visas, the crime victim must petition on behalf of eligible family members after receiving his or her own U visa. For victims who are under age 21, eligible family members include parents, children, spouses and unmarried siblings who are younger than age 18. Victims who are 21 or older may petition on behalf of their spouses and children.