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U visas help nonimmigrant victims of domestic violence or abuse

Immigrants who have suffered mental or physical abuse should not be afraid to come forward and seek help from authorities. Fortunately, a type of visa is designed just for that purpose.

Congress created the U nonimmigrant status, or simply the U visa, with its passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. In exchange for receiving the visa, a crime victim agrees to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the related criminal investigation.

The legislation was part of the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act, which explains why the U visa’s list of qualifying criminal activities includes various forms of domestic abuse, sexual assault, sex crimes and abusive contact.

To petition for this type of relief, an adult victim must submit certain paperwork to a local USCIS service center, including Form I-918. Victims who might be facing inadmissibility issues should also request a wavier via Form I-192. After approval, derivative U visas may also be available to other family members. For younger victims, a parent or guardian may interact with officials on the victim’s behalf.

Our Tennessee immigration law firm has proudly helped many victims of domestic abuse or sex crimes to obtain legal immigration status. In some cases, we have even found a way to obtain permanent residence. However, time is often of the essence. Don’t delay, as there is a risk that the time period for filing a petition for relief could expire. Call our Nashville office to learn more about the requirements for seeking relief under the U visa. The visa may protect you from your abuser while also serving to put a criminal offender away.

Source: “Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status,” copyright 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

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