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U Nonimmigrant Status for Indirect Victims and Bystanders

May 13, 2019, 1:29:51 PM / by Staff Attorney

Many immigrants have heard about the path to a green card through a u nonimmigrant status.  A u nonimmigrant status is available to victims of certain qualifying crimes, who suffered mental and physical harm due to this crime, and who were helpful in assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of that crime.  


However, many do not know that U nonimmigrant status can also be available to those who were not crime victims under certain circumstances.  Specifically, immigrant parents can receive a u nonimmigrant status as “indirect victims” of qualifying crimes that happened to their children.   Additionally, those who suffered because of witnessing a crime can be considered “bystander victims” for u nonimmigrant status. Finally, family members of deceased victims may be eligible for u nonimmigrant status.


  • Indirect Victims

An immigrant parent can be considered an indirect victim of a qualifying crime, and thus be eligible for u nonimmigrant status, if:


  1. The principal victim, the child, is under the age of 21; and
  2. The child  was incompetent or incapacitated to provide assistance to law enforcement on the investigation of the crime, or at the time of the investigation the child is deceased due to murder or manslaughter.

Per U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) there is a rebuttable presumption that a child is incompetent to provide assistance to law enforcement if the child is under the age of 16 at the time of the investigation.  USCIS can rebut this presumption if there is evidence that the child was capable of giving information to law enforcement. In making this determination, USCIS evaluates how much information the child gave to law enforcement and the parent’s role in supporting the child and helping the investigation.   


In addition to these requirements, the parent must meet also the underlying requirements for the u nonimmigrant status.  The child must have been a victim of a qualifying crime, the parent must have information about the crime, the parent must be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime, and the crime must have occurred in the United States or have been a violation of United States law.  In other words, family members can apply as indirect victims if they meet all of the eligibility requirements that the direct victim would have had to meet to be granted u nonimmigrant status.





  • Bystander Victims

Bystanders or witnesses of a crime may also be granted u nonimmigrant status if they suffered unusually severe and direct harm as result of having witnessed the criminal activity.  The harm must have been a foreseeable result of the crime. Generally, USCIS requires that the bystander be present at the time of the crime. As an example, if an immigrant witnessed someones murder or assault, and it caused significant emotional distress, they could be considered a bystander victim.


  • Family Members of Deceased or Incapacitated Victims

Finally, u nonimmigrant status can be obtained by spouses, children under the age of 21, parents and unmarried sibling under the age of 18, where the direct victim is deceased due to murder or manslaughter  or is otherwise incompetent or incapacitated and cannot provide information to law enforcement.


Is Applying for A U Nonimmigrant Status Right for You?


If you or any member of your family was a victim of a crime, you should contact an experienced immigration lawyer at the Immigration Law Office of Los Angeles to discuss your options for u nonimmigrant status.  This status could give you a path to a green card and protection from removal. To be sure, you may still be eligible for this status even if you were previously ordered removed, illegally re-entered the country, or have other immigration or criminal issues.   


However,  there are risks associated with filing for a u visa or any other application during the Trump Administration.  Under the Trump administration, if the u visa is denied you will be placed in removal proceedings. Accordingly, ensuring that your application is strong and mistake free is imperative-- which is why it is key to hire a compassionate and thorough immigration attorney.


Call our office today to schedule a consultation to talk with an immigration attorney at 800-792-9889.  

Topics: U Visas

Staff Attorney

Written by Staff Attorney

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