Numerous undocumented immigrants in California and across the country are the victims of criminal activities. These individuals often fail to report the crimes due to their immigrantion statuses. Those who find themselves in such situations need to know that it may be possible to obtain what are known as U visas, if they are willing to cooperate with law enforcement officials.

A U visa may be granted to an undocumented immigrant who has been the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or a variety of other serious and/or violent crimes. Like any other visa, there is no guarantee that an application will be approved. That decision will be made by the U.S. Citizenship and immigrantion Services.

An application for a U visa must be accompanied by the signature of a local law enforcement officer or other government official. After all the documents have been submitted for review, authorities have 90 days to approve or deny the request — 14 days if the applicant may be deported. These visas, if approved, can grant those receiving them fresh starts of sorts. Unfortunately, only 10,000 U visas are given out every year, so getting one is not necessarily simple.

Undocumented immigrants residing in California who are the victims of criminal activities do not need to continue living in fear. They may be able to apply for U visas or other available immigrantion statuses. This is not something that has to be done alone. Legal assistance is available to help individuals in these situations seek the protections they desperately desire.

Source: npr.org, “immigrantion Relief Possible In Return For Crime Victims’ Cooperation“, Hansi Lo Wang, Jan. 20, 2016