People come to the United States for a variety of reasons. Many people come as tourists on holiday or to visit relatives. Others enter to attend school or on a temporary work visa. One thing that all of these visas have in common is that the holder must return to his or her home country when that visa expires.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. One common but unfortunate way that a person may request to remain in the United States is if he or she intends on being a witness in a criminal trial. Specifically, the U visa program allows the victims of violent crimes to remain in the country while the government pursues its prosecution of the defendant.
A Wheaton U visa lawyer could provide more insight into the U visa program. Experienced attorneys could help the victims of crimes to determine if they qualify under the terms of this program and to obtain the paperwork necessary to submit the relevant applications.
Any person who wishes to enter or remain in the United States must obtain a visa. Normally, these visas allow entry for purposes of tourism, business, or education. However, it is an unfortunate fact that many people who do not enjoy legal permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship may be a victim of a violent crime while in the country. When this occurs, the U.S. government has an interest in allowing a victim to remain in the country to serve as a witness at trial.
The U visa program is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) method for accomplishing this goal. U visa applicants must be able to prove that they were the victim of human trafficking, rape, kidnapping, torture, or felonious assault. While holding a U visa could help people remain in the United States for the purpose of serving as a witness, the visa expires at the conclusion of the trial, and there is no path to a green card or citizenship. A Wheaton U visa lawyer could help to provide more information about the goals of the U visa program.
A victim of a violent crime that falls under the U visa program must still follow the specific USCIS procedures. This begins with submitting Form I-918. Like most other temporary visa applications, Form I-918 requires specific information about victims’ criminal records, their addresses both in the United States and in their home countries, and information that may indicate a risk to national security.
In addition to completing Form I-918, an application for a U visa must include a certification from a law enforcement agency detailing the facts of the attack and why the applicants must remain in the country to testify at trial. This could involve certification from a major law enforcement agency such as the FBI, or similar documents from city or town police departments. In every case, the certification must include a sworn statement from the visa applicant that he or she intends to provide aid in any way possible to law enforcement in bringing the attacker to justice. A Wheaton U visa lawyer could explain the necessary steps in obtaining a U visa and work with people to gather the necessary documentation and to interface with the relevant law enforcement agencies.
Every person has the right to demand that law enforcement punish the perpetrators of crimes. This includes the ability to provide information to police and to testify at a trial against an attacker. However, when the victim of a violent crime is not a United States’ citizen, this right could conflict with immigration laws.
Thankfully, the U visa program exists to allow non-citizens to remain in the United States for the sole purpose of aiding in a criminal investigation. If these visa holders are able to demonstrate that they were the victims of a violent crime and certify that they intend on doing everything that they are able to help law enforcement, they may receive a temporary U visa from USCIS.
A Wheaton U visa attorney could help people to obtain these visas. Attorneys could work to guide you through the necessary paperwork, to submit a complete application, and to interact with the relevant law enforcement agencies. Contact a Wheaton U visa attorney today to learn more.