Victims of certain crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse while in the United States, and who are willing to assist law enforcement or other government officials in prosecuting the crime, are eligible to apply for "U Status." U Status permits victims to remain in the United States, and they are eligible to apply later for permanent residency and ultimately U.S. Citizenship. However, recent policy updates from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") will make it harder for victims to come forward.
One of the many things U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reviews when you apply for citizenship is what's termed "good moral character." Several things can bar you from showing good moral character, such as a criminal record, failure to pay taxes or child support, or admission of unlawful activity. While some convictions do not automatically bar you, some convictions bar you permanently and others for a period of 5 years. If you have a conviction barring you for 5 years, you must wait at least 5 years before applying, but even then immigration officers have discretion to review your entire past in determining whether you have good moral character.It is important therefore to have an attorney assist you in preparing supporting documents to show your good moral character. This can be things such as education degrees, employment licenses, letters of recommendation, and evidence of community involvement. An attorney will also be needed to draft a legal memorandum in support of your claim of good moral character. Immigration law is constantly changing and the experiences of other individuals may no longer be relevant to the current policies. If your application is denied, you must wait an additional 5 years before reapplying. If you have questions or plan on applying for U.S. citizenship call the attorneys at Saenz & Maniatis, PLLC at (615) 366-1211.