For immigrants living in New Jersey who have been victimized by crimes, abuse, or domestic violence, it may seem as though there are not many options available for them to seek protection or justice against their attackers.
Fear of deportation or penalty for living in the state illegally has convinced many immigrants to stay silent if they are abused or hurt, and many even choose to stay in dangerous living situations with a violent spouse or family member because they believe that they have no other options. However, immigrant victims of violent crimes do have options for reporting crimes and receiving protection through the U Visa program.
In 2000, the U Visa was introduced as a new type of immigration benefit available to victims of violent crimes. This visa was a response to concerns that undocumented persons would not be able to report violent crimes or call police for help because they feared deportation more than abuse or violence.
The U Visa encourages criminals to stop targeting immigrants as easy marks with little fear of retaliation, and provides immigrants with a safe option for reporting a crime and staying in the country. Since its introduction, thousands of U Visas have been granted to victims of domestic violence and other crimes.
What Do You Need for a U Visa Application?
To file a request for a U Visa, you must have the following:
- Crime: There is a master list of offenses that qualify for a U Visa application, including physical harm, spousal abuse, domestic violence, fear of injury, and other violent criminal acts. Although there does not need to be a conviction, the applicant must demonstrate that they were affected by this crime.
- Proof of injury: The applicant must also prove that he or she has been injured (either physically or psychologically) by the crime in question. Evidence can be submitted through medical reports and evaluations from a doctor or psychologist.
- Cooperation with law enforcement: As part of the U Visa protection, the victim must cooperate fully with law enforcement officials. This cooperation can be evidenced by a police report or a testimony provided in court, and must include a completed Immigration Form 918B, signed by a judge, prosecutor, police officer or other qualified official.
U Visa Stipulations
Although U Visas are intended to provide protection and relief for victims of violent crimes, there are federal stipulations that restrict applications to 10,000 U Visas each year. Anyone who receives a U Visa is eligible to apply for a green card after three years, and may be granted a waiver of his or her criminal and immigration violations.
At the law offices of Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, we represent anyone who has immigrated to New Jersey and needs help navigating the citizenship application process. If you have been a victim of crime or domestic abuse, and your status as an illegal immigrant is keeping you silent, explore your options with a New Jersey immigration attorney at HCK today. A U Visa could grant you the protection you need to get out of an abusive situation and start the process towards citizenship.