Crime happens every day to innocent people; even immigrants in New Orleans are not immune to them. When people are victims of crime, they can contact the police for protection and justice, but many immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are not aware that they have legal protections against deportation.
You may not have a green card or have completed the steps necessary for you to remain in the country legally, but if you are the victim of a crime, know that it is normal for foreign nationals not to report a crime because they fear deportation. Do not let the fear of deportation keep you from seeking the protection of the police when necessary. Here is what you should know about the U Nonimmigrant Status Program:
What is the U nonimmigrant status visa?
The U Visa is a program the government put in place to encourage foreign nationals to cooperate with law enforcement in detaining and prosecuting people who commit crimes against them. In exchange for them reporting crimes and criminal activity to the authorities, they can legally remain in and seek employment in the country, but it does not grant permanent citizenship. U Immigrant Visa holders must still apply for their green cards and complete the citizenship process to become lawful residents. To qualify for the protections it offers, immigrants must meet the following criteria:
- The crime must have occurred in the United States
- The victim received certification of victimization from law enforcement
- The victim has knowledge or information about the crime
- The crime must be a violation of United States law
- The victim must have experienced substantial mental and physical trauma because of the crime
- The crime must meet certain criteria, such as fraud, extortion, abduction and obstruction of justice
Not all crime victims qualify for the U Immigration Visa Program. Also, victims are eligible without having any physical injuries; mental and emotional injury applies. U visas are valid for up to four years. With the right information, legal resources and persistence, foreign nationals may benefit from the U-visa program and other legal protections.