New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Parole For U Visa Petitioners And Their Dependents

Author: USA visa Attorney Alena Shautsova

A U visa is issued to qualified victims of criminal activities that have been helpful to the authorities in investigation and prosecution of the offenders.

While many are familiar with an application for a U status from within the United States, a person who is outside of the United States may apply, if qualifies, for a U visa at a US consulate.

To qualify for a U visa, an applicant has to present a U visa certification: a document signed by a judge, a police officer or a prosecutor confirming that the applicant -victim was helpful in persecuting the person(s) committed the offence. The offence has to be one from a list of suitable offences, or also can be a related criminal activity.

There is only one caveat. There are numerical limitations on how many U petitions may be approved in a given year. As such, if that number is exhausted, the petitions would remain valid, but would be “frozen” waiting its turn in the next year. For years, it meant that those who are filing from overseas could not come to the United States while the “cap” for U visas was exhausted.

Recently, USCIS adopted a new policy. From now one, qualifying petitioners and their family members will be allowed to come to the US and wait for their turn while in the United States. This policy should aid not only immigrants, but also the law enforcement. It is simply impossible to effectively prosecute the case when the victims who are supposed to give testimony and otherwise participate in the case cannot be physically present in the United States.

A U visa is a great tool, underutilized by victims of domestic violence. When a non-citizen spouse is a abused by a citizen spouse or a permanent resident spouse, he/she may use VAWA I-360 self-petitioning option to sponsor him/herself into the United States. However, those who were abused by non-citizens or who were not officially married to the abusers have one option: a U visa/ status.

It is important to remember that without the cooperation form the law enforcement, it is not possible to obtain a U status. Sometimes, prosecutors mistakenly believe that victims should not be assisted with the U visa applications, as it will look “bad” in front of the jury, as if the victim “got something” in return to her testimony. This is a mistaken position, because the victim “gets something” in return not for her/his testimony but for suffering substantial physical or psychological harm by the hands of the offender: a showing, without which it is impossible to receive a U visa.

If you have questions about the U visa / status, please direct them through our contact form at shautsova.com or by calling 917-885-2261.

14 September 2016
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