Does A U Visa Give You The Right To Work In The United States?
U visas are available to noncitizens of the United States who have been victims of certain crimes involving mental or physical abuse (including domestic violence, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, sexual assault, and trafficking) and who could be helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity. Created as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000, the U nonimmigrant visa is intended to help law enforcement agencies better serve victims of crimes.
Thanks to deferred action, victims (referred to as the principal petitioners) and their immediate family members can reside here in the United States for up to four years on their U visa (by which time U visa-holders can apply for permanent residency status).
You may be eligible for a U visa if you are the victim of a qualifying crime that either occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws; have suffered as a result of being a victim of that crime; have information about the criminal activity in question; and have been helpful or are willing to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
The Good News About U Visas
When a noncitizen is granted U-1 nonimmigrant status as a principal petitioner, they do have the right to work based on that status. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) automatically issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is good for four years, to the principal petitioner once their Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status has been approved.
For those principal petitioners who are placed on a waiting list due to the cap on U visas granted each year, they can still receive an EAD valid for four years if they apply for a work permit and if their application is deemed “approvable”. Those who apply for a U visa from abroad will only be eligible to apply for a work permit once they’ve entered the country.
USCIS will often authorize qualifying family members to work here legally, though they do not automatically issue these family members EADs upon the visa approval. These family members need to submit their own separate petition to be authorized to work.
The Bad News About U Visas
While a U visa does give petitioners and even their immediate family members the right to work legally in the United States, processing an application can take an unfortunately long period of time. Most applicants spend three and a half to four years from the time they apply until they are even put on the waitlist. Applicants will not be allowed to work during that time. Once qualifying applicants are put on the waitlist, then their deferred action status allows them to live and work here.
The Law Office of Carlos L. Williams – Legal Support for Your U Visa Application
There has recently been a dramatic increase in the volume of U nonimmigrant petitions, which means there’s a growing backlog of applicants awaiting placement on the waiting list. USCIS has decided to provide EADs and deferred action to noncitizens with pending, bona fide petitions who meet certain standards at USCIS’s discretion. With these new U visa options for victims, it’s more important than ever to have the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney for your petition.
U visa immigration lawyer Carlos Williams has dealt with a wide range of immigration matters from his office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and understands the unique challenges facing victims of crime who wish to seek safety and security in the United States. Mr. Williams and his dedicated legal team will work to obtain a positive outcome as quickly and as efficiently as possible. While you’re waiting on your application to be approved, he will keep you well-informed and put your mind at ease about your case.