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Can U visa holders qualify for a green card?

There are many different visas foreign nationals can be here in the U.S. on. One of these is a U visa. This visa is for victims of criminal activity who meet certain eligibility requirements.

Now, a U visa is a nonimmigrant visa. This means it is for a temporary stay in America. A U visa generally lasts for four years.

Now, what if a U visa holder desires to reside in the U.S. permanently, rather than just temporarily? Are there avenues for such individuals to apply for a green card?

Individuals who have a U visa can qualify for a green card. However, they have to wait a certain amount of time after being granted U nonimmigrant status before they can apply for such a card. Specifically, an individual has to have had at least three years of continual physical presence in the U.S. since being admitted under U nonimmigrant status to request a green card.

Also, in addition to this time requirement, there are a range of other requirements a U visa holder has to meet to qualify for requesting a green card. These additional requirements touch on things like: maintaining admissible status, showing that their presence in the U.S. meets one of the required justifications (public interest, family unity or humanitarian grounds) and not denying reasonable assistance to law enforcement.

So, a range of different things could affect a U visa holder’s eligibility for a green card. This underscores that the things an individual does after being granted a U visa can have big impacts on future immigration issues for them. So, when a U visa holder thinks they may wish to one day apply for a green card, they may want to talk to a skilled immigration attorney about what steps they can take to safeguard their future eligibility to apply for permanent residency. Such lawyers can also assist U visa holders with the process of applying for a green card.

Sources: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status,” Accessed Jan. 19, 2017

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Green Card for a Victim of a Crime (U Nonimmigrant),” Accessed Jan. 19, 2017

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