Last week the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced an updated policy guided toward welcoming dialogue between individuals who have been victims of crimes and ICE officers. The announcement illuminates the administration’s stance when it comes to ICE agents and their confrontations with victims of crime. The new policy will prohibit most deportations and arrests for migrants who have been victims of crimes. Additionally, the policy provides supplementary details on how ICE will “facilitate and offer” guidance to undocumented immigrants who have suffered the consequences of being a victim of a crime. Even if the immigrant has not formally sought legal protections for these circumstances, ICE will still need to extend direction. But in some “exceptional circumstances,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement can still take action to deport or arrest victims of crimes. These circumstances include national security threats or other illegal activities. The new plan will ultimately offer some relief to individuals who have seen firsthand the repercussions of crime, and a chance to obtain justice while in The United States.
Acting Ice Director Tae Johnson said the “policy update facilitates victim cooperation with law enforcement, enhances ICE’s criminal investigative efforts, and promotes trust in ICE agents and officers enforcing our laws. It is ICE’s commitment to assist victims of crime regardless of their immigration status.” The agency aims to invite undocumented immigrants to participate in the U.S. justice system without having fears of being deported.
What is a U-Visa?
Undocumented immigrants that have been victims of crimes and their immediate relatives may be eligible to apply for a U-visa. A U-visa permits individuals to enter and remain in the United States while assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of a crime. Some cases may include domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual harassment, and several other types of crimes. The individual applying must have suffered physical or mental abuse to meet the requirements of the U-visa application.
Am I Eligible?
There are several requirements to apply for U-visa for you or an immediate relative. You may be eligible if the crime occurred in the United States or violated United States laws. You must also have information about the criminal activity and assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution. Several additional requirements will need to be met. For more visit the USCIS U-visa page here.
Some Benefits include:
- Ability to work legally in the United States
- Lawful status for up to four years
- After three years, U-Visa holders can apply for a green card to obtain permanent legal status
Who can I also petition for?
Note: You must first have your own U-Visa petition approved. Only then will your family members be eligible for their derivative U-visa.
If you’re the applicant and under the age of 21 you can also apply for
- Your spouse, children, parents, and unmarried siblings under the age of 18
If you’re the applicant and over the age of 21 you can also petition for
- Your spouse and children
If you choose to apply for a U-visa the following form will be required: Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status.
The updated policy is a move away from many of the draconian measures undertaken by former President Donald Trump that sought to undermine and limit the opportunity of undocumented immigrants from seeking legal status. The Biden Administration has in a series of memorandums and executive orders demonstrated a desire to deliberately and effectively unwind many of President Trump’s critical immigration policies. Many of President Trump’s more stringent policies have already faced the consequences of Biden’s leadership but some still remain in place.
President Biden has prominently aimed at dismantling the Trump immigration agenda. But executive orders will not suffice in preventing future administrations from perhaps reincorporating Trump’s policies. It remains critically important to advocate for effective immigration reform. As Biden’s term continues, the potential for legislative action to improve our nation’s immigration system fades. Next year, several critical elections will be underway in the House and Senate. If one body of congress were to flip, it would furnish Republicans enough ammunition to threaten a significant portion of Biden’s agenda. The time for legislative action to help protect the millions of undocumented immigrants in our nation is now.
Are you an undocumented immigrant seeking legal status in the United States? Some benefits of holding legal status include the ability to work and receive government assistance. By partnering with a skilled and effective Connecticut immigration attorney you’ll have the essential guidance necessary for the advancement of your case. Immigration law is not simple, and many factors must be accounted for during your application process. Recognizing these facts will be imperative to your case. Attorney James A. Welcome has taken an in-depth strategy when considering the affairs of his clients, including investigating and assembling vital information to help improve the chances of a positive outcome in your immigration case. Whether petitioning for asylum or applying for a visa, The Law Offices of James A. Welcome will deliver the necessary legal guidance your case requires. From your initial consultation, you’ll have a more solid understanding of the way we approach practicing immigration law.
As a top-rated, Connecticut Immigration law firm, you can have the confidence knowing our legal guidance is backed by decades of experience and thousands of satisfied clients. To schedule your confidential immigration consultation, please contact The Law Offices of James A. Welcome at (203) 753-7300 and speak with a member of our legal team.