When you came to Mississippi in search of a better life for yourself and your family, you were willing to work hard and do what's necessary to make it happen. In fact, your first few years were fairly enjoyable as you set down roots and grew accustomed to life in the United States. Yes, you were nervous and suffered anxiety from time to time regarding your residency status, but you also knew you were not alone, as thousands of other immigrants share similar circumstances.
The day someone mugged you in the parking lot coming out of work after a long night shift, you knew your life had changed forever. Your family wanted you to call the police, but you hesitated because you knew that would lead to a conversation about your legal status. The fact is, even if your residence is not currently valid, you still have rights, and you may qualify for temporary protection if you were the victim of a violent crime.
Learn more about U visas before you determine your next step
There is a particular visa status set aside for immigrants who suffer physical or mental abuse at the hands of others in the United States. As with most immigration programs, there are eligibility requirements that you must fulfill before applying. The following information explains more about U visas and may help you determine whether this type of protection may be a viable option in your situation:
- The U.S. Congress created the U visa as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000.
- If you suffered physical or mental injury in an act of violence, you must be willing to report pertinent information to appropriate authorities and to help prosecutors in their quests to secure conviction against all defendants involved in the situation.
- The government considers only certain crimes violent. The crime you endured must be on the list in order to be eligible for a U visa.
- If you are a minor, your legal guardian, parent or another representative may act on your behalf to transmit pertinent information to police and others in authority.
- The crime had to have occurred within the United States and must violate federal or state law.
- You must be eligible for entrance to the United States or must apply for a waiver.
A U visa is issued with a set expiration date, at which time you would have to reapply. If you do not, you are at risk for immediate deportation. This is because a U visa is not a permanent residence status, only a temporary protection against removal. You may be better off seeking clarification about the process from someone well-versed in U.S. immigration law before filing an application.