Path to Permanent Residency thru U Status

Posted by Alexander Carl | May 08, 2018 | 0 Comments

Path to Permanent Residency Through U Visa

U nonimmigrant status (a.k.a. U visa) 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. Any federal, state, or local authorities, such as police officers, district attorneys, or judges may issue certifications. An individual filing for U status is referred to as the "principal." A principal may also petition on behalf of a qualifying family member. 

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 status is only valid for four years. U recipients may extend their U status beyond four years if 1) certifying law enforcement official attests that the U recipient's presence in the United States continue to be necessary to assist in the criminal investigation or prosecution; 2) delays occur in consular processing; or 3) the U recipient can show that an extension would be warranted due to "exceptional circumstances." Exceptional circumstances include battery or extreme cruelty to the U recipient, child, or parents of the U recipient, serious mental illness of the U recipient, or serious illness or death of the spouse, child, or parents of the U recipient.  

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. 

Anyone can make an application on behalf of someone who is outside the United States and has an urgent need to enter the Untied States. Although it is not recommended, individuals outside the United States may also self-petition for humanitarian parole. Once an individual enters the United States as a parolee, then he or she may apply for an extension of U status under the applicable limited circumstances. 

Since applying for a humanitarian parole is an extraordinary measure, U extensions are only granted under certain and limited circumstances, and many inadmissibility issues arise during this process, it is strongly advised that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney to assess your eligibility. Only licensed attorneys are qualified to help you legally and represent you in immigration courts. Our team is here to help, so call us today to schedule a free consultation. 

About the Author

Alexander Carl

Partner - Bolour / Carl Immigration Group, APC. 323-218-0465 Email: Email Me Areas of Practice Business Immigration Family Immigration athletes, entertainers and artists Naturalization Education Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, California Juris...


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