Path to Permanent Residency Through U Visa
By: Vana Karalian, Law Clerk, Law Offices of Ally Bolour, APC
U nonimmigrant status is available to someone who suffers from substantial physical or emotional abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
To be eligible, the victim must possess information concerning the qualifying criminal activity, and a law enforcement official must certify that the victim “has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful” in the investigation or prosecution of a crime.
An individual, who has been a victim of a criminal activity in the United States, may also apply for U status if he or she is outside the United States. To do this, a person must first file all the necessary forms for U status with the Vermont Service Center and have his or her fingerprints taken at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Once the petition is approved, the U recipient then must consular process to enter the United States.
U recipients are eligible to adjust their status after three years of holding a U status. U status is automatically extended upon the filing and pendency of the adjustment application. If a U recipient departs the United States while his or her applicant for adjustment of status is pending, he or she will be deemed to have abandoned the application, and the application will be denied. At that point, the reentry of the U recipient back to the United States depends on whether the U status is still valid or expired.
If the U status is not expired, a person may reenter the United States by consular processing. If the U status expires by the time the U recipient decides to return back to the United States, then reentry becomes challenging. Under the latter hypothetical, the reentry becomes challenging because the U recipient is out of U status and has no valid preexisting ground for reentry. In the latter instance, a U recipient will also not be qualified for a U status extension because generally only a nonimmigrant in the United States may apply for an extension of status.
One way to overcome this hurdle in the latter hypothetical is to first apply for humanitarian parole. Humanitarian parole is an extraordinary measure sparingly used to bring an otherwise inadmissible foreigner into the Untied States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency. Reasons for parole include but are not limited to medical needs, family reunification, or participation in civil and criminal proceedings.