What is the U Visa?
The U Visa is for victims of certain crimes who have experienced physical or mental abuse and are willing to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal incident. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa in October 2000. Its purpose is to encourage victims to come forward, aid in the prosecution of domestic violence cases (among others), and to protect those victims who are willing to help law enforcement authorities.
What is domestic violence in California?
California considers the nature of the relationship between the parties and the harm that is inflicted. An “intimate relationship” is required. This might include marriage, domestic partnership, a dating relationship, a shared house, and/or having a child together. This relationship might still exist or it could be in the past. We can also consult with you on a domestic violence restraining order.
The abuse does not have to be physical. It can include emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse. Some examples include:
- Placing someone in fear of harm;
- Destroying personal property; or
- Limiting your physical freedom.
What are the qualifying crimes in California?
Some examples of qualifying domestic violence crimes in California include the following:
- Domestic Battery;
- Domestic violence with injury;
- Restraining order violation;
- Terrorist threats; and
What is Coercive Control?
Appellate courts in California now recognize coercive control as a form of domestic violence. In September 2020, California’s Governor signed a bill into law that clarifies the state’s Domestic Violence Protection Act to now include coercive control as a form of domestic abuse. It occurs when one party forces another to isolate themselves from family, employment, or even their own bank account. Please see our previous blog here for more information on this topic.
How do I apply for a U Visa?
One of the most crucial components to the U Visa application is a certification from an authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency that investigated the crime you were a victim of. This certification shows that you were a victim of a qualifying crime and that you were helpful and/or available in the prosecution of the case. You must submit it with your personal statement describing the criminal activity, supporting evidence such as the police report, photos or medical records, and the relevant forms for the application itself.
Domestic violence has a broad definition and applies to many scenarios. The types of abuse are complex and often even overlap with family law, divorce, domestic partnerships, parentage, and children. It can also extend to various types of relationships. U Visa eligibility does not need current or ongoing harm and eligibility can even be based on abuse suffered from past relationships. This also applies to the LGBTQ community. Castro Law Offices are available to consult with you on whether you are eligible for a U Visa.
Who is Castro Law Offices?
**Castro Law Offices is no longer offering Immigration Law Services.** We are a premier California law firm that focuses on family law in English & Spanish. Castro Law Offices is based in Novato, California, but is ready and able to provide legal services and advice to clients in and around Marin County including Novato, San Rafael, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sausalito, Larkspur, West Marin, Ross, Mill Valley and Corte Madera. Contact Castro Law Offices today to schedule a confidential consultation!