Those who abuse their intimate partners, children and other family members or acquaintances are often very careful and deliberate in their behavior. Many abusers do not display their anger or violence in public settings and are selective about the people who experience mistreatment at their hands. Additionally, abusers frequently wait until they have someone in a vulnerable position to expose their true nature.
Someone who has just entered the country through a fiancé or family visa depends on another individual for their legal right to stay in the United States. Their relationship is therefore very important for their legal rights. Abusers may leverage that dependence for their own benefit and begin mistreating someone or forcing them into illegal situations where there is no obvious alternate option for the victim.
The victims in such situations often feel like they have no rights and no protection. Thankfully, there is actually a visa program that can help disconnect victims of crime from their assailants without forcing them to leave the country.
The U visa helps victims of criminal activity
The vulnerability of immigrants is well known, and therefore the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) already has a special visa program in place for the protection of those victimized after entry into the country.
Those who have experienced certain kinds of criminal activity and who agree to assist in the prosecution of the parties involved can potentially obtain a U visa. The crimes that might make someone eligible for a U visa include:
- domestic violence
- abusive sexual contact
- felonious assault
- involuntary servitude
- fraud in foreign labor contracting
- female genital mutilation
- false imprisonment
- sexual assault
- sexual exploitation
- witness tampering
- slave trade
Those who successfully apply for a U visa can act to defend themselves and other people that they care about while protecting their right to remain in the United States. In some cases, those who obtain U visas and rebuild their lives might eventually qualify for green cards.
People should not have to endure assault or other criminal activity simply to protect their status as recent immigrants to the United States. Learning about different visa programs can help those who are feeling trapped due to family-based immigration that created a dangerous situation to better advocate for themselves with the assistance of a legal professional.