U Nonimmigrant Status

U Visa Requirements

Commonly, we use waivers to help clients with criminal issues. Not every criminal issue will require you to file a waiver (for example, if you were wrongfully arrested and the charges were dropped). If you do have a criminal conviction (remember that for purposes of immigration, pleading “no contest” constitutes a conviction) ALL criminal convictions can be waived for purposes of the U visa with few rare exceptions (Nazi affiliation, genocide, torture, and extrajudicial killings cannot be waived).

In order for USCIS to decide to approve your waiver, you must prove that it is in the public or national interest for the waiver to be approved. This will result in a case-by-case analysis where the “bad” parts are weighed against the “good” parts. Some “bad” or negative aspects of your case may include the severity of the crime you committed, the number of crimes you have committed, and if you committed any crimes recently. Some of the good aspects or some things that might help your case may include if you’ve been particularly helpful and cooperative with the police and other authorities in your role as the victim of a crime, if you earn a livelihood, family ties in the U.S., community service, etc.

Examples of some of the types of papers that you will need in order to warrant an approval of your waiver include police reports and court dispositions for your convictions, a statement from you describing the circumstances that resulted in your conviction/s, and letters of reference and recommendation. These papers are in addition to the papers for the U Visa generally, which we discussed in an earlier post.
In addition to waivers for criminal issues another common reason for needing a waiver concerns past issues with immigration fraud. Perhaps you lied in order to get a work permit or employment authorization card. Or, perhaps you lied or committed some fraud in entering the United States. You will need a waiver if you entered the United States illegally. Yet another common reason for needing a waiver concerns becoming a public charge. This concerns individuals who have received government assistance in the past or are likely to require government assistance in the future. There are many other reasons why you might need a waiver but above we addressed some of the more common reasons.

Contact our office to determine if you’d be a good candidate for a U Visa and also to determine if your particular circumstances will require a waiver. We have offices in Sacramento and San Francisco but our clients are located all over the United States and abroad.

Why should I apply or wait for a Freedom of Information Act request?

In this post we will cover the benefits of applying and waiting for a Freedom of Information Act (hereinafter FOIA) request. A FOIA request will allow you to gain access to Federal records, more specifically, in our cases, a FOIA request will allow you to gain a copy of papers concerning your immigration records in the United States.
A FOIA request can take several months to process unless the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) determines that there is a “compelling need” to expedite the request. For this reason, many clients want to move forward on various aspects of their immigration cases without seeing the results of their FOIA.

There are certain situations in which it would be wise to apply for and wait for your FOIA prior to trying to apply for and receive any immigration benefit. You may have a hazy memory regarding the details of your entry to the United States. For example, you may remember having entered with a different visa or an unusual notation in your passport. If you don’t have your original passport and visa/s a FOIA could possibly help you fill in the blanks. This situation is common in cases in which your last entry was a long time ago or if you entered as a child. If you entered as a child, you should obtain papers proving your entry into the United States because your parent or guardian might not clearly remember the facts.
Additionally, it is common for individuals to use the services of a different immigration attorney, or, more regrettably, the services of a paralegal or “notario” prior to coming to our offices. In those cases, you may remember the end result, for example a work permit or a denial, but you may not know exactly what the professional did on your behalf. This lack of information can have consequences on the immigration benefits for which you are currently eligible.

Finally, in some cases the notes found in the FOIA can paint your case in a different light. There may be notes regarding things you said to immigration officers in the past that you don’t remember. There also may be notes that are incorrect. These are situations in which what you don’t know can hurt you. You may have to address the contents of your FOIA prior to moving forward in receiving a new immigration benefit.
Not everyone needs a FOIA, some individuals have only been in the United States briefly and their stays are properly documented with passports, visas, and I-94s. In other cases, if any details are unclear, it is best to use a FOIA in order to fill in the blanks and best decide how to proceed. Please contact our office to determine whether your case warrants applying and waiting for your FOIA request.

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