Hi, I’m Kathryn Karam. I’m an immigration lawyer in Houston, Texas. I’m board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. I’ve been practicing immigration for about 14 years. I wanted to talk to everyone today about the update that we all received in the last week from US Immigration regarding giving work permits to undocumented immigrant victims of crime or for people who have applied for the U Visa.
What is a U Visa?
A U Visa is a visa or a legal status that is for people who do not have status, who are victims of crimes in the United States, and have gotten a law enforcement agency to certify that they’ve been helpful in a investigation of a certain crime.
U Visa Update for Undocumented Victims of Crime
This new update from US Immigration basically says that if they decide someone’s U Visa application is bona fide, they can issue them a work permit and give them deferred action.
This means that those applicants can live and work in the US and they won’t try to remove the person from the country.
For undocumented immigrant victims of crime (or for people who have applied for the U Visa) this guidance is really helpful because the application process takes a very long time for someone applying for a U Visa to actually get that status.
Who Qualifies for the U Visa Work Permits and Deferred Action?
According to this update, if you have applied for a U Visa, US Immigration will go through the applications that it has and determine which ones are bona fide, in their view, and then decide if they will issue work permits to those people. US Immigration is going to go through the applications in a two part analysis.
Is the U Visa application bona fide?
1. Immigration will look for applications with the required submission of initial evidence. You can always look for the required initial evidence on the USCIS website and the instructions.
2. Immigration will then look to see if the applicant completed a background check. If they did, they will look to see if they passed the background check and, then, they will look to see if the applicant will be a threat to public safety or national security.
If the applicant is deemed “not a threat to safety or our security,” then Immigration can send a bona fide determination letter to the person who has applied for the U Visa with a work permit and grant them deferred action for the period of the work permit.
So it’s really good news for people who are applicants for U Visas, because in the past they didn’t get any of this security while they were waiting for their application to be approved. It was just a long, long waiting process.
This is going to be done because by law it’s allowed. And, because it’s a way for people who have been victims of crimes and who have helped law enforcement to be able to support themselves while they’re waiting for this determination on their U Visa.
6 Tips for U Visa and Undocumented Victims of Crime
If you think you qualify for a U visa, here are six quick tips to help you get started:
1. If you haven’t already reported the crime that occurred, write down what happened as best you can and consider talking to an immigration lawyer about whether this crime will allow you to qualify for a U visa.
2. Get any police reports about the crime in question. Your attorney will need to review these.
3. If you have a criminal record, get copies of your arrest report and court documents
4. Keep contact information of any police officers, detectives or prosecutors you have spoken to about the crime. Your attorney may need to reach out to one or more of these officials as part of the U visa process.
5.If you suffered any physical injuries as a result of the crime that occurred, get a copy of your medical records
6. If you are experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, or other emotional issues as a result of the crime, talk to a counselor or other person you can confide in and keep a journal about your experiences.
U Visa Immigration Lawyer in Houston Texas
If you’re thinking that you might qualify for U Visa or you have a U Visa pending, and you’re wondering what’s going on with it, you can talk to an immigration lawyer about it and see if there’s anything that can be done to help you. I am an Immigration Lawyer in Houston, Texas. If you would like to talk to me, you can schedule a consultation by clicking on the orange button below and filling out a form.