U-Visa Lawyers in Jacksonville — Helping Crime Victims Gain Legal Status in the United States
There are various ways to seek legal residency status within the United States. For many people, this is done through loved ones who are either legal U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Unfortunately, not everyone’s experience in the country is quite as loving. People living in immigrant communities — particularly those who are here illegally — face a disproportionate risk of being the victim of a crime. While no one wants to go through something like this, the experience may open a path to lawful immigration status. A U-visa lawyer in Jacksonville may be able to help.
At Weldon Law Group, PLLC, our team of legal professionals works every day to help immigrants gain legal status in America. U-visas are just one of the many ways we can do this, but for many, it’s the only option they qualify for. We can help you work with a law enforcement agency in order to obtain a visa that will grant legal residency for years — and potentially even lead to citizenship. While the U-visa process might be the best option for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy. Let our Jacksonville immigration lawyers assist. Contact us for a consultation today.
Who Qualifies for U-Visas?
Anyone who was the victim of a crime that qualifies under U-visa status may be able to gain legal residency in the United States. However, there are a few caveats to this. For instance, the victim of criminal activity must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to their victimization. They must also be helpful or show a willingness to help police or government officials with the investigation or prosecution of a crime. The criminal activity in question must also violate U.S. laws, and the victim must be admissible to the country.
It is possible to receive a waiver if you’re inadmissible to the U.S., but where most people get confused is with the types of crime they can assist law enforcement in resolving. Each of the following constitutes U-visa-qualifying criminal activity:
- Felonious assault
- Domestic violence
- Human trafficking
- Sexual exploitation
- Unlawful criminal restraint
- Slave trade
This list no doubt seems extensive, but as you’ll learn during the U-visa application process, it is far from exhaustive. The government actually lists several other criminal activity types — along with related crimes — which could qualify a person to receive a visa. You may have even noticed “murder” and “manslaughter” on this list. These are there because it’s also possible to garner U nonimmigrant status by being related to the victim of a crime. The spouse, parents, children, and even siblings of these victims can be U-visa applicants. In many cases, the process is easier for them.
Clearly, this is a complex procedure. That’s why you should contact our law firm today to speak with a Jacksonville U-visa lawyer.
Does Criminal Activity Have to Be Reported to Law Enforcement?
One of the most common questions that any visa attorney will hear is, “Do I have to report a crime in order to get a U-visa?” This is one of the few questions regarding the application process that is straightforward. While you don’t have to report the crime, the crime must be reported. That’s because a certification must be issued by police saying that you are or will assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of a crime. Many people seeking immigration services try to avoid the police, but in this situation, working with them is integral.
However, it’s wise to speak with a U-visa attorney in Jacksonville before doing anything. This is particularly true for undocumented immigrants. For one, you want to make sure you meet U-visa eligibility requirements. Otherwise, you might simply end up handing yourself over to customs enforcement if you’re not documented. However, statistics also show that many law enforcement agencies refuse to provide certification at alarming rates.
This is often for political reasons or because officers are not trained in certification. Regardless of the underlying motivation, no one should be afraid to seek out help when facing mental or physical abuse. Reach out to our U-visa lawyers in Jacksonville today to make sure you get through the application process safely.
Can a U-Visa Lead to American Citizenship?
If you or any of your family members are a U-visa applicant, American citizenship may be forthcoming. While U nonimmigrant status only lasts for four years, you can apply for a green card after only three years of continuously residing within the United States. At that point, you may be given permanent residency in the country. Once granted this status, you’re only one step away from becoming an American citizen. Clearly, this process can be difficult regardless of the stage you’re at, but attorneys with experience in immigration law can assist.
Unfortunately, there are caps to how many people will make it through the U-visa application process yearly. The backlog for the applications has consistently grown over the years. This means it could be years before you’re a bonafide visa holder — even if you were the victim of certain crimes that qualified you for the visa. However, there is no cap on how many visas can be issued for family members. Additionally, there may be many other paths to legal residency available to you. That’s why you should speak with a Jacksonville U-visa lawyer before doing anything.
Contact a U-Visa Lawyer in Jacksonville Today
Law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute crimes is only as good as the people who assist them. This is just one of the reasons why the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was so important. By passing the law, the federal government made it easier for police to do their jobs and offered safe options for immigrants who might otherwise face deportation proceedings. If you or a loved one were the victims of a U-visa-qualifying crime, you need a professional in immigration laws on your side.
That’s exactly what you’ll find at Weldon Law Group. While our law firm handles a variety of legal matters, much of our work revolves around helping visa applicants and other immigrants who simply want legal status in America. It’s understandable if you’re wary of law enforcement, but with a U-visa lawyer in Jacksonville on your side, it’s possible to work directly with the police in order to gain legal residency. Contact us by calling (904) 204-3420 to schedule a consultation and get started today.