With the U non-immigrant visa, you may be eligible to get a green card. The U non-immigrant visa is for victims of certain crimes who suffered mental or physical abuse and assisted law enforcement with the investigation and/or prosecution of the criminal case. You may qualify for the green card if you meet the following criteria:
- You were lawfully admitted in U-1 nonimmigrant status;
- You are in U-1 non-immigrant status at the time you file your Form I-485, adjustment of status application;
- You have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years since you were admitted as a U-1 non-immigrant and until you complete the adjustment of status application;
- You have not refused to assist with the investigation or prosecution since obtaining the U-1 non-immigrant status and during the adjustment of status process;
- You are not inadmissible due to involvement in the Nazi party, genocide or torture;
- Your presence is justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or is in the public interest; and
- The officer applies a favorable exercise of discretion.
The upside of this process is you can apply yourself after having U status and maintaining 3 years of continuous presence by filing the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with all the evidence that you meet all of the eligibility requirements above.
What it means to have Continuous Presence
You must not be outside of the United States for more than 90 days for each travel period or for more than 180 days for all trips over the three (3) year period. If you find that you are outside of the United States for more than 90 days in one trip or more than 180 days during more than one trip, an exception may apply if:
- Your absence was necessary for the investigation; or
- An official certifies that your absence was justified.
Adjustment of Status Process
If you are located in the United States, you may be able to submit an adjustment of status application. Generally, this involves submitting the petition and the adjustment of status application, attending a biometrics appointment and then the final interview some months or years later.
Family members who received U status with you may also be eligible to apply for a green card and there is the additional advantage of not having to meet the three (3) year continuous presence of the U-1 non-immigrant. To file for family members, you would need to submit the Form I-485 application at at the same time, or while your application is pending or after already approved.
Before applying for the green card through the adjustment of status process you should make sure that this is the right process for you. You should also consider applying for employment authorization and advanced parole. Advanced parole will allow you to travel outside of the United States during the adjustment of status application process. Each of the pieces of this process can get complicated. If you miss something or make mistakes, it could mean a delayed process or even a denial. It is important to tread carefully and be meticulous through this process.
When considering whether to go through with this type of green card application, it is important to take other circumstances and factors into consideration. Failing to do this may cause complications in the application process. For instance, any facts that involve previous denials, past immigration and criminal violations, previous marriages that involved filings, entry with other types of visas, tax issues, visa overstays, and previous employment in the United States can be just as important as the basic eligibility criteria. A single criminal violation, whether a misdemeanor or more serious, or previous immigration violation can lead you to be inadmissible to the United States, which may require additional steps to get a green card, such as a waiver.
It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with your case. An attorney will help to guide you through preparing the petition, assist with gathering evidence, and advocate vigorously for you during the process. Here at ST Law Office, I have dedicated my practice solely to immigration matters. I vigorously advocate no matter how simple or complicated the matter. Don’t hesitate to call us at 561-405-4889 or to schedule your initial phone, online or in-person consultation now.