Hi, I'm Kathryn Karam. I'm an immigration lawyer in Houston, Texas. I'm board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. I've been practicing immigration for about 14 years. I wanted to talk to everyone today about the update that we all received in the last week from US Immigration regarding giving work permits to undocumented immigrant victims of crime or for people who have applied for the U Visa.
What is a U Visa?
A U Visa is a visa or a legal status that is for people who do not have status, who are victims of crimes in the United States, and have gotten a law enforcement agency to certify that they've been helpful in a investigation of a certain crime.
U Visa Update for Undocumented Victims of Crime
This new update from US Immigration basically says that if they decide someone's U Visa application is bona fide, they can issue them a work permit and give them deferred action.
This means that those applicants can live and work in the US and they won't try to remove the person from the country.
For undocumented immigrant victims of crime (or for people who have applied for the U Visa) this guidance is really helpful because the application process takes a very long time for someone applying for a U Visa to actually get that status.
Who Qualifies for the U Visa Work Permits and Deferred Action?
According to this update, if you have applied for a U Visa, US Immigration will go through the applications that it has and determine which ones are bona fide, in their view, and then decide if they will issue work permits to those people. US Immigration is going to go through the applications in a two part analysis.
Is the U Visa application bona fide?
1. Immigration will look for applications with the required submission of initial evidence. You can always look for the required initial evidence on the USCIS website and the instructions.
2. Immigration will then look to see if the applicant completed a background check. If they did, they will look to see if they passed the background check and, then, they will look to see if the applicant will be a threat to public safety or national security.
If the applicant is deemed "not a threat to safety or our security," then Immigration can send a bona fide determination letter to the person who has applied for the U Visa with a work permit and grant them deferred action for the period of the work permit.
So it's really good news for people who are applicants for U Visas, because in the past they didn't get any of this security while they were waiting for their application to be approved. It was just a long, long waiting process.
This is going to be done because by law it's allowed. And, because it's a way for people who have been victims of crimes and who have helped law enforcement to be able to support themselves while they're waiting for this determination on their U Visa.
6 Tips for U Visa and Undocumented Victims of Crime
U Visa Immigration Lawyer in Houston Texas
If you're thinking that you might qualify for U Visa or you have a U Visa pending, and you're wondering what's going on with it, you can talk to an immigration lawyer about it and see if there's anything that can be done to help you. I am an Immigration Lawyer in Houston, Texas. If you would like to talk to me, you can schedule a consultation by clicking on the orange button below and filling out a form.