Some people who are not citizens of the United States have the sad experience of being the victim of a horrible crime. Fortunately, the U.S. government allows foreign residents to take their unfortunate experience and use it to gain U.S. legal permanent residency. The first step is to apply for a U nonimmigrant visa.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website explains how individuals who have been the victim of criminal activity in the United States or because of a violation of U.S. law may qualify for a U visa.
Being a victim of specific crimes
Just because someone has suffered due to criminal activity does not mean that person is eligible for a U visa. The U.S. government lists criminal activities that may qualify victims for a visa. They include the following:
- Obstructing justice or tampering with witnesses
- Sexual assault
- Kidnapping or taking someone hostage
- Slavery and human trafficking
- Extortion and blackmail
The U.S. government does not require that these and other qualifying crimes should have happened. You may have experienced hardship and abuse as a result of a conspiracy to commit these acts, in which case the government may consider you for a U visa.
Assisting the U.S. government
The U.S. government could also consider you for a U visa if you can provide help to prosecute a qualifying crime. You might have information about criminal activity which could lead to arrests and prosecution of guilty parties. U.S. law enforcement might consider you to be of help now or possibly in the future. You might also qualify for a visa if you had rendered assistance to prosecute a crime in the past.
Moving forward to permanent residency
Once the government has granted you a U visa, you may become eligible for a green card if you live in the United States for no less than three years and you have not unreasonably denied help to U.S. law enforcement after you got your visa. U.S. law also allows U visa holders to seek U visas for family members. If you have relatives who have suffered due to criminal activities, they may seek residency as you have.
While being a victim of crime can inflict lifelong emotional problems on you or your family, the prospect of becoming a permanent U.S. resident might help you establish a new and happy life in this country.