U Visa for qualifying persons brings many benefits. Victims who are granted U visa status have the right to remain in the United States for the period that their visa is valid. They become legal non-immigrants and have rights such as opening a bank account, getting a driver’s license, enrolling in an academic study, and similar. This article will highlight the most important advantages for a person who is granted a U- Visa status.
Getting a Lawful Permanent Residence – a Green Card
Probably the most important feature of a U Visa is providing the opportunity to a permanent residence. With a U Visa, you do not have to renew your status, which is the case with some other immigration statuses, such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The U Visa is a path that will ultimately lead you to a green card and even U.S. citizenship.
Having an approved U visa status application makes you eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) later on. If you intend to apply for lawful permanent residence, it is essential to know that you can receive it if you meet each of the requirements as follows:
- Physical presence in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years. This period comprises the time since the date you were admitted under U visa status;
- The constant physical presence is interrupted if you leave the United States and stay outside for 90 days in a row or 180 days totally unless this absence was:
- Necessary for assisting in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; or
- Justified by the law enforcement official investigating or prosecuting;
- At the time you apply for LPR you continue to have U visa status (the U visa status has never been revoked);
- You were lawfully admitted to the United States as a principal or derivative with U visa status;
- You are not refused because of your participation in genocide, Nazi persecution, or as a person who was involved in the act of torture or an extrajudicial killing;
- You have not unreasonably refused to assist an official or law enforcement agency during the investigation or prosecution the criminal act or person(s) who committed the crime which was a ground you get a U visa status; and
- You were continuously present in the United States- justifying on humanitarian grounds, ensuring family unity, or it is in the “public interest.”
After five years as a legal permanent resident, you can apply for naturalization (to become a citizen), assuming that you meet all of the other citizenship requirements.
Length of Duration
If your U visa status application is approved, you will be able to stay in the United States lawfully. Once approved, the U visa status can last for up to four years. But, if you are granted a U visa at this time, in three years, you will be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence or a green card. Still, this will require you to meet all of the following conditions:
- The law enforcement agency has to fill out the certification that will confirm that your further presence in the United States is needed to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity, or
- Additional time is necessary due to exceptional circumstances.
Getting Work Permission
Once your U visa status has been granted, you can get a four-year work permit when you apply for a U visa as a principal applicant or as a derivative family member. Moreover, the benefit of this visa is that you can get a work permit even before you get your U visa.
Your work permit may become valid when your application receives the status “approvable,” and you are placed on the U visa waitlist. This is based on deferred action. This usually takes about more than three years from the time you apply until you may be put on the waitlist, so this means that during this time, you will not have a work permit.
If you are a principal applicant or a derivative applicant and you applied from abroad, you will be eligible to apply for a work permit only after you enter the United States once your U visa is granted.
You Can Help Your Family
The U Visa allows helping your family to immigrate. Meaning, your spouse, children, parents, or siblings that you might have can qualify for U visa derivates. In other words, you can sponsor your family for immigration, and at the moment you apply for your U Visa, you can include these relatives in your application, as well, by filling out Form I-918 Supplement A.
If acceptable, they will receive U-Visa derivative status and all the same benefits as you, the principal applicant. The ages of the relatives and your relationship to them will determine whether or not they are eligible.
If you, as the principal, are:
- Under 21 years of age- You may petition on behalf of your spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings under age 18;
- 21 years of age or older- You may petition on behalf of your spouse and children.
Obtaining a Waiver
The U Visa suspends many of the grounds of inadmissibility while other immigrant visas do not offer such a possibility. If you entered the United States illegally and multiple times or have a final order of deportation, the U visa allows you to apply for a waiver and stay eligible for getting the U visa status.