If you live here in Texas without legal permission, you may relate to the many struggles and challenges other people in similar situations experience. Even seemingly uneventful activities, such as driving to and from work each day, may cause you to feel nervous or worried that authorities will detain you because of your legal status. Some immigrants say they hesitate to report certain issues, even if someone has stolen their property or committed another crime against them because they fear they will be at risk for deportation if they do so.
What they, and you, may not know is that if you were the victim of certain violent crimes that took place here in the United States, you may qualify for a U visa. This program may not only provide a safe way for you to seek justice against the person who perpetrated the crime against you, but may also allow you to apply for temporary protected legal status. There are specific requirements attached to the program and you may want to seek support if you plan to seek this type of visa.
U visa facts
If you were somewhere in Texas (or anywhere in the U.S.) when someone committed a violent crime against you, you have a right to pursue justice. The following information helps explain the basics of the U visa program:
- The U.S. Congress created the U visa status in 2000. This visa protects non-immigrants and their families from deportation.
- In exchange for legal status protection, violent crime victims or family members must agree to assist law enforcement agents and prosecutors in their quest to secure convictions against those charged with violent crimes.
- The person must have committed the crime in the United States or, if a U.S. citizen abroad, must have violated United States' laws.
- Only certain crimes qualify as grounds for a U visa application. These include domestic violence, rape, blackmail, abduction and trafficking, among others.
- You or your family member must have suffered physical or mental abuse.
- If you suffered a disability that rendered you incapable of reporting information regarding the crime, a family member or friend may testify on your behalf. The same applies if you are not disabled but are under age 16.
- You must qualify as admissible to the United States in order to be eligible for a U visa.
Two separate Acts that were influential factors in creating the U visa program were the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and the Battered Immigrant Women's Protection Act.
Where to turn for help
It is understandable that you may feel frightened or hesitant to come forward and report the violent incident or incidents that took place. However, doing so may not only help bring those who broke the law to justice, it may also help you obtain an adjustment of status that may help eliminate a lot of stress you now experience with undocumented status.
Language barriers and other issues may cause complications when trying to go it alone in court, so it may be a good idea to consider turning to compassionate and experienced immigration attorneys for support.