U-visa holders are a special class of visa holders. They must have been a victim of a crime while assisting U.S law enforcement. After three years of continuous residence in the United States, U visa holders may be able to change their status to “lawful permanent resident” by receiving their green card.
If you have a U visa, you should apply for your green card as soon as possible. This is because you must remain eligible as a crime victim when applying for a U visa, and your U visa runs out in four years.
In this post, we will discuss how U visa holders can get Green Cards and become a US lawful permanent resident.
What is a U-Visa
U non-immigrant visas are for people who have witnessed a crime or have been victims of serious abuse. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act introduced this type of visa to help law enforcement with investigations and prosecutions.
There is a congressional cap on the number of U visas that can be issued to principal applicants each year. But there is no cap on how many U visas can be issued to family members who qualify for derivative status. It is a four-year visa, but you can ask for an extension.
You can file a U visa petition with an immigration attorney in Jamaica at discounted fees. If you are a witness or victim of a crime, you can get a U visa if you work with law enforcement to investigate and charge the crime.
Who can Change the Status from U Visa to Green Card?
If you want to get a green card in the US, as a U-visa holder, you need to maintain your status as a U non-immigrant and keep helping law enforcement out with helpful info.
You cannot have abandoned that status, like if you stopped cooperating with the government or moved out of the US. Specifically, to be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
- You need to be in the US for at least three years on a roll.
- You must not have refused to cooperate with law enforcement agencies without any justification.
- You must have a continuing presence that is justified by humanitarian reasons, family unity, or the public good.
But it can be harder if your help is no longer needed to investigate or prosecute the crime. To prove you are eligible, you will need to show you have been helping government officials for a long time, including a certification from a qualified agency.
To successfully do this, you will require the services of an immigration attorney in Jamaica.
Residence for Three Years in a Roll
If you want to apply for US permanent residency, as a U-visa holder, you will need to show USCIS evidence that you have been living in the US for at least three years in a row. This means you have not gone anywhere outside the US for more than 90 days or 180 days in your U-visa status.
It is best to avoid traveling outside the US while you are in U-visa status, but if you did, you can prove your presence by documenting every trip outside the US. This will help you show that you were only abroad for a short time and that you now live in the US.
This could include things like pay slips from work, tax transcripts from the IRS, school transcripts, and letters from people you know saying you are living in the US. If you cannot prove your presence, you will need a written explanation from a government official justifying your absence for such a period.
Cooperating with Law Enforcement Agencies
To get your green card, you will need to provide useful info to law enforcement and not give unreasonable refusals to help law enforcement agencies. You need to contact your certifying agency and get another helpfulness certification (Form I-918) to support your green card application.
If you cannot get another certification (Form I-918), talk to an immigration attorney in Jamaica for an affidavit and evidence. Tell the immigration attorney in Jamaica why you turned down a cooperation request. USCIS decides if the request is unreasonable based on the nature of the crime, the circumstances, and the help needed.
Justified Residence in the US
U-visa holders who are trying to get green cards do not have to waive inadmissibility grounds, except Nazi persecution, genocides, or extrajudicial killing. If you want to change your permanent residence status, it is a choice that USCIS officers can make.
You will need to show that you deserve to get a green card, like if you have immediate relatives in the US, if you have achieved something in the US, and if you have had a hard time in your home country.
How U-Visa Holders Can Apply for Green Card
If you are a U-visa holder who is eligible, you can apply for a green card. You can do this by applying for permanent residency or adjustment status with Form I-485. You will also need to submit Form I-693 with USCIS. There are a lot of other documents you must attach to support your application.
An immigration attorney in Jamaica can help you sort out these documents. Once you submit your I-485 application, you will get a receipt notice and then a biometric appointment notice, where the USCIS will take your picture, fingerprints, and signature. You might also get a call from USCIS to set up an interview at their local office.
Have in hand all documents submitted to the USCIS, and take an interpreter to your interview if you do not speak English well. If you are part of the family of a U-visa holder with U-visa derivative status, you can apply for a green card by filling out form I-485. This form lets you register or change your status.
Get More Information and Legal Help
Hiring an immigration attorney that knows the ins and outs of the immigration process is key to getting your immigration application approved.
Gehi & Associates, located at different locations in New York, has a wide array of experienced immigration attorneys who can guide you and help you through the immigration process.
Gehi & Associates can help you assess your application and present your case to enable you and your family to successfully change from the U-visa status to become green card holders. Talk with one of our immigration attorneys right away!