Family-based immigration gives opportunities to many people who want to live in the United States. Those with visas, green cards or citizenship can help their family members travel to the U.S. Joining a spouse or a parent in the U.S. could be the fastest way for someone to legally enter the country.
Unfortunately, family-based immigration does make certain people more vulnerable in addition to offering benefits. Those subject to domestic violence from a family member or other forms of criminal activity may feel trapped in an unsafe situation.
If your immigration to the United States depended on a family member who has committed a crime against you, there are special visas that might help you.
The U visa protects crime victims
Your immigration status makes you particularly vulnerable to criminal schemes. Employers might lie to you about your rights, and abusive family members could try to control you, turning your desire to live in the United States into a weapon.
However, when they commit a crime against you, they may make you eligible for a different kind of visa. The U visa program specifically protects victims of crime who helped prosecute the person that hurt them.
Domestic violence, kidnapping, prostitution, incest, involuntary servitude, blackmail, sexual assault and stalking are all examples of criminal acts that might make you eligible for a U visa. You will need as much documentation as possible of the crime and help you navigate what is often a complex application process.
No one should need to stay in an unsafe situation
You should not feel like you must remain forever with a violent or abusive family member because you want to live in the United States. You may be able to secure your own visa and then move toward getting a green card.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may even deport the person who violated your rights or abused you. The crimes that qualify a victim for of U visa may trigger the rules against crimes of moral turpitude for immigrants. Not only can you protect yourself by separating your right to stay in the country from your relationship with a criminal, but you might have the separation of an international border between you afterward.
Learning more about your rights as a victim of violence or criminal activity can help you protect yourself.