When you emigrated from another country of origin to Texas, you no doubt had certain goals you hoped to achieve as you adapted to a new lifestyle. Maybe you had a job lined up or were coming to this country to be with the person you intended to marry. On the other hand, your entrance across a U.S. border might have been an attempt to escape violence, poverty or persecution.

Regardless of the details that led to your decision to move to Texas, once you arrived here, you had no reason to expect that you would become the victim of a violent crime. Sadly, if this has happened to you, you’re not alone in your suffering, as it has happened to many others as well. The police officer assigned to your case may be able to help you obtain a U-visa. As a non-immigrant, this type of visa gives you a protected legal status that is for those who have suffered mental or physical abuse in the United States.

U-visa eligibility requirements

As with most immigration processes, you must satisfy qualification requirements before submitting an application for a U-visa. As mentioned earlier, this visa category is for crime victims. You must also be willing to assist government officials and law enforcement officers in any investigations or prosecution connected to the incident in question. You must also be at least age 16 or older if you wish to act on your own behalf in the application process. If you are younger than 16, your parent or guardian may act on your behalf.

A law enforcement officer must sign

As the victim of a crime that someone perpetrated against you in the U.S., the investigating officer assigned to your case must sign a USCIS form I-918 to substantiate your petition for a U-visa. In fact, it may have been the police officer you’ve been speaking to who told you about the U-visa and that you might be eligible for one. The officer’s signature alone does not qualify you for the visa, however. Immigration officials will take it into consideration as they review the other details of your case.

It’s important to remember that the law enforcement agent who signs your I-918 certificate may retract his or her signature if you refuse to further cooperate in the criminal case against the perpetrator who caused you to suffer injuries.

Benefits of obtaining a U-visa

If your paperwork was not in proper order when you entered the United States, you may be subject to removal. However, if you obtain a U-visa, you gain a protected legal status for up to four years. You would be able to obtain gainful employment and may also become eligible to adjust your status to permanent residency after a certain number of years.

Acquiring a U-visa status may be helpful in your healing process as the victim of a violent crime. Daily life can be highly stressful if you’re always worried about deportation. By qualifying for a protected legal status under the U-visa program, you would have one less thing to worry about as you work with law enforcement officers and government officials to seek justice against the person or people who committed a crime against you. You shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for additional support if you have questions or concerns about the U-visa process.