Coming to the United States to build a new life in Texas may have been one of the most challenging events in your life. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrival, legal worries may have tempered your situation as well. If you are one of many whose paperwork was not in order when you crossed the border into this state, you may have encountered some risky situations as you put down roots and began to work toward your goals.
You likely understood that living as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. would not be easy. However, you never imagined you would be the victim of a violent crime. When it happened, your first instinct may have been to call the police. If you hesitated for fear that authorities would discover your legal status and deport you, you are definitely not the first one to go through such a frightening experience. You'll be glad to know there are support systems available to help people in your situation.
Ways to seek justice as well as adjustment of status
Nearly 20 years ago, the U.S. Congress enacted a new law that makes it possible for immigrants without documentation who are victims of violent crime to seek temporary protected legal statuses. The following facts explain the program further and also provide resource information regarding where to seek support:
- You may have heard the term U visa. This status protects you from deportation.
- There are specific requirements to meet before applying for a U visa, including that the crime committed against you had to have occurred in the United States or by a U.S. citizen abroad whose actions violated U.S. laws.
- You must agree to aid law enforcement agents and prosecutors in their quest to obtain convictions against any and all defendants named in your case.
- Some violent crime victims file their own petitions. Others have family members or friends act on their behalves. There are regulations overseeing each process.
- The government limits the amount of U visas issued every year to 10,000.
- A U visa typically remains valid for four years. In certain circumstances, extensions are available.
- The government holds a list of crimes that meet the legal definition of violence. The crime committed against you must be on the list to create eligibility for a U visa. The list includes crimes such as abduction, human trafficking, assault, blackmail and domestic violence.
For the government to grant a U visa, you must be eligible for admission to the United States. If officials approve your petition, you will need to attend a consular interview. If language poses a barrier to you, such interviews can be quite stressful; however, one can receive permission to request the accompaniment of a translator or other legal representative.
Immigrant advocates who can help
Many undocumented immigrants in Texas, who have faced not only violent crime issues but other problems involving their legal statuses as well, have been able to overcome their challenges and get help by calling on experienced immigration law attorneys for support.