We’re very pleased that the Biden administration announced a new policy granting legal protections pending U visa applicants.
But who does this affect, and how? Victims of certain crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Congress only allows the government to issue 10,000 U visas a year, leaving many other applicants on a waiting list for future years and vulnerable to deportation.
Under the new policy, the government will review all U visa applicants and will begin the process of granting four-year work permits.
This will give applicants the ability to “work and remain safely in the United States while they provide valuable support to law enforcement to detect, investigate or prosecute the serious crimes they have survived or witnessed,” the acting director of the United States Citizen said.
Must Be Bona Fide
Immigration will be reviewing all applicants for U visas to consider their eligibility for a work permit, but only applications deemed bona fide.
Well, what does bona fide mean? When it comes to U visa applicants, bona fide means that you are a qualifying victim under the laws of the U visa. A very clear list of crimes perpetrated against undocumented persons by a lawful permanent resident or US citizen makes an applicant bona fide.
The most common eligible crimes committed against an undocumented person are domestic violence, felonies, any felony-level assault, sexual assault, aggravated robberies, and mostly anything with the word “aggravated” in it.
If you’ve ever been a victim of one of those crimes, you are eligible for this work permit consideration, but there’s one caveat.
Having survived any one of these crimes is enough to make you eligible for the consideration, but only if you’ve cooperated with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office throughout the investigation and in court.
We all know that undocumented people are often fearful of coming forward to report wrongdoing, even if it’s something that has harmed them. This new policy will incentivize coming forward, which will help pending U visa applicants and help put violent and harmful criminals behind bars. Cooperation is imperative.
Unlike other immigration policies, this new policy applies to applications that have already been submitted and future applications, which is incredible news for our clients.
If you or someone you know has a pending U visa application or is eligible under the guidelines we’ve discussed here, it’s important to speak with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible. Give us a call to discuss your options. We’d be happy to assist you with the benefits of this new policy.
As always, we’ll continue keeping abreast of all the evolving immigration policies that are important to you. Keep following us on social media for updates on that news.