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The U visa: Who can help and do you qualify?

As a survivor of violent crime, you may feel as though you're on a roller-coaster of emotion. You likely have some good days and some where you keep replaying the events that took place over and over in your mind. You have hopefully found encouragement from family and friends. There are also licensed counselors and others who can provide support as you rebuild your life and recover from your injuries.  

As a Colorado resident who entered the United States from another country, your circumstances may qualify you for a U visa. As with most federal immigration programs, there are eligibility requirements you must fulfill in order to apply. Applying for any type of visa is often stressful, even for those who have not been victims of violence in the U.S. You can seek assistance from someone well versed in U.S. immigration law to help you avoid obstacles while navigating the U visa process.  

Things to know  

Before seeking a protected legal status, it's a good idea to make sure you have a basic understanding of the visa for which you plan to apply and to also understand other issues you will likely face once you activate a U visa application. The following list provides basic facts that may apply to your situation: 

  • If you plan to seek a U visa, you'll be submitting written statements. It is crucial that you provide evidence to show why immigration officials should grant you this protected status.
  • There is no verbal interview involved in applying for a U visa, which is why you should seek assistance if you have trouble reading or writing in English.
  • In some situations, you may need to file a waiver to prove it is in the public interest for you to remain in the U.S. Such situations may include mental illness, substance abuse problems or criminal convictions.
  • Officials will never inform the perpetrator of the crime that caused you injury that you are applying for a U visa.
  • Extenuating circumstances may complicate your U visa situation, such as if you have already been deported or re-entered the U.S. after a removal.
  • You will also be eligible to seek legal permanent residency three years after a U visa approval.  

These are just a few facts that may help you navigate the process to try to acquire a U visa. Your road to emotional and physical recovery following the incident that caused you harm may be long and difficult. However, if you obtain a U visa, you'll have one less thing to worry about (for the most part) and that is deportation. 

As long as you do not commit any criminal offense, you will be able to live and work in the United States without fear of removal. You need not hesitate to reach out for support at any juncture as you take steps to become a permanent resident of the United States.

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