Virginia U Visa Case Process

A U visa can be a helpful way for an individual who has been the victim of a crime to obtain nonimmigrant status in the US. No matter how a person is applying for a U visa, it is frequently a complicated process and it is important to have the assistance of a Virginia U visa attorney to explain the case process.

The first step in any U Visa case is to evaluate whether your crime is going to be a qualifying crime, and whether or not you are cooperative. If your crime fits under the enumerated list set forth in the U Visa statute, then you have the beginnings of a Virginia U Visa case.

Steps in a U Visa Case

The next step is a case determining whether or not someone has been helpful in the investigation or prosecution. When that has been confirmed, then they can move forward with applying for the U Visa certification with the investigator or the investigative agency that handles the case. Once the certification is received, then they move forward with the USCIS application which includes a long list of documentary evidence to document their suffering and their cooperation, and also to address all other issues of inadmissibility that may be present in the case. If necessary, they would submit the waiver at the same time on their Form I-192.

At the same time that the victim applicant who is the principal applicant is applying for the U Visa, they also want to make sure they apply for any eligible family members that may be able to be derivative to the principal case. If there is a principal applicant who has a spouse who is also undocumented, they can include them in the U Visa application at the time of filing. They can also include minor children who are under the age of 21 and if the principal victim was under the age of 18, they can also apply for minor siblings.

Length of a U Visa Case

One of the unfortunate things about the Virginia U Visa case processes is they are slow to process. They are taking up to and even exceeding a year for just the initial adjudication to occur in the Vermont Service Center.  Once an individual gets that to the initial adjudication stage, then there is a backlog for receiving the U Visas because of the 10,000 cap every year, which has been reached. There is a queue that someone is put in when they apply and wait for the U Visa to become available.

The Vermont Service Center sends out letters after the initial adjudication phase that states their intent to approve or deny someone’s case. If someone gets a letter stating they intend to approve their case when the U Visas become available, this is called a ‘provisional approval’.

With this letter, they can apply for something called ‘deferred action status,’ which is similar to the status of people that are in DACA or “Dream Act Status.” Once they have that status, they can apply for work authorization and they can work legally in the United States if presently legal in the United States while they are awaiting the release of new U Visas.

Post-Provisional Approval

It can take up to two years after the provisional approval to actually receive the U Visa. The timeline for the Virginia U Visa case is dependent on the case load of the Vermont Service Center. An applicant in removal proceedings will be able to continue an active removal proceeding for the duration of the time that the U Visa is pending with the Vermont Service Center. Continuing a case in immigration court when a U Visa is pending is doable.

Once someone’s U Visa case in Virginia is approved, even if it is only the provisional waiver, the office of chief counsel prosecutors, who are the prosecutors in the immigration court, will agree to administratively close the proceedings while someone is waiting for the actual U Visa to be issued.

If they are not in the deportation proceedings, they do not need to worry about being placed into removal proceedings while the U Visa is pending because if they were detained by ICE for some reason, they could show proof there was the U Visa pending and they would grant them a stay of removal. Even if they did place someone in immigration court, they can continue their case for the duration of the U Visa. One big caveat to that is if someone commits a crime while the U Visa is pending, they would have to submit an additional waiver and it may trigger removal proceedings to be initiated while the U Visa is pending.

Attorney Considerations in a U Visa Case

Attorneys will take certain considerations with individuals Virginia U Visa cases, like first to look to see if the crime is going to be a qualifying crime. For instance, a lot of people think if they have been victims of just a simple assault that did not involve much physical contact a that it is qualifying. In most of those cases, a simple assault is not a qualifying crime.

However, there are many other types of assaults that can qualify, even though they are not enumerated under the U Visa list. This the first determination. The second thing to consider is whether or not someone applying was helpful in their investigation. Then once they have determined helpfulness and if they have evidence that the crime occurred in the United States, then it is possible to move forward with the certification process and continue the rest of the process with the Vermont Service Center.

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