When you first obtained gainful employment in the United States, you may have had mixed emotions. On one hand, you were no doubt relieved that you had secured a means to provide for your family. On the other, you may have worried that an incident would occur to place you at risk for deportation.
Depending on your circumstances — for instance, if you are the victim of a crime at work or anywhere in the country — you may be able to apply for a U Visa that would allow you to keep living and working in the United States.
Never heard of a U Visa?
Just because you are living here without proper documentation doesn’t mean your employer or anyone else can walk all over you, abuse you or commit illegal acts against you. You have rights. A U Visa protects non-immigrants who have been victims of crimes. The following information offers basic facts, as well as eligibility requirements for the U Visa application process:
- Simply reporting you were a victim of crime is not enough to secure a U Visa. You must also be willing to help investigators and other law officials in their quest to prosecute and convict those who committed the crime.
- Your U Visa is not without expiration. When it expires, you must apply for renewal and obtain approval; if you don’t, you are at immediate risk for deportation.
- While under the protected U Visa status, you are immune from deportation.
- Some of the crimes of which you may be victim at work that would create eligibility for a U Visa status include felonious assault, labor contract fraud and involuntary servitude (when someone forces you into labor against your will).
There are other requirements you must satisfy before you can apply for a U Visa. If you believe your employer or some other person has committed a crime against you that would make you eligible for this temporary protected status, you may submit an application that may keep you from being separated from your family.
Many people in your situation are fearful of reporting crimes against them because they think they are not entitled to protection under the law since they are living in the United States without proper legal statuses. There is a large support network available in New York and elsewhere to help non-immigrants navigate the process of applying for U Visa statuses.