Can Family Members of Victims of Criminal Activity Obtain Legal Status and Permanent Residency

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Victim: If someone has been the victim of a crime in the United States which has caused physical or mental trauma and that person has or will likely be helpful to the police or law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of that crime, then they can seek what is known as U nonimmigrant status (commonly known as a U Visa).

If granted, the foreign national will receive legal status and work authorization for a period of 4 years and can also apply to travel outside the United States.  After 3 years of holding U nonimmigrant status, the foreign national can apply for Lawful Permanent Residency (LPR) or a Green Card.

Family members of the victim (U-1 or principal U) can also apply for U nonimmigrant status, known as derivative status as follows:

  1. If the victim (U-1) is under 21, the victim’s husband or wife, unmarried children under 21, parents and unmarried brothers and sisters under 21 may apply;
  2. If the victim is over 21, the husband or wife and unmarried children under 21 may apply.

Family members of the victim (U-1) can later also apply for Lawful Permanent Residency or a Green Card as follows:

  1. Family members who obtained U nonimmigrant derivative status based on any of the two categories listed above may apply for a Green card after 3 years of physical presence as a U nonimmigrant in the United States.  Such family members may file when eligible even if the principal U-1 victim does not file for permanent residency;
  2. Family members who did not obtain U nonimmigrant status who are the spouses, unmarried children under 21 or parents may apply if they establish that either they or the principal U-1, would suffer extreme hardship if they are not allowed to remain or be admitted to the United States.

If anyone in your family who is a foreign national has been a victim of a crime and reported to the police, speak with a qualified immigration attorney to determine if immigration benefits may be available to family members in addition to the victim.

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