I'm getting a U visa, due to abuse by my (since reformed) husband; can I help him get a green card?

Perpetrators of crimes are not eligible for U visas via the victim.

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Question

Several months ago my husband was arrested in a domestic dispute in which I was the victim. He spent some time in jail and was released after reaching a plea deal with the district attorney. We have been in marriage counseling and things have dramatically improved. I am about to receive a U visa from helping law enforcement in this case, and I understand that with a U visa I can help family members get a green card. Which family members can I help? Can I help my husband get a green card even if he is the one who abused me?

Answer

It is generally true that you can help family members obtain a visa to remain in the country when you get a U visa. The family members can also be issued U visas. The visa for a spouse is known as a “U-2” visa, the visa for children who are under 21 is called the “U-3” visa. If you were under 21 when you obtained the U visa, you can help parents get a visa called the “U-4” visa, and you can help unmarried siblings get a visa called the “U-5” visa. To get any of these visas for family members you must show that the family relationship existed at the time you got your U visa.

There is a prohibition, however, against helping someone gain status if that person committed the crime underlying your U visa application. The person who committed the crime that established your eligibility for a U visa is known as the perpetrator.

By not allowing you to file a petition for the perpetrator, the government avoids granting a benefit to the perpetrator as a reward for his or her past bad acts. In turn, this avoids situations where spouses could stage an abusive situation in order to obtain status in the United States.

To learn more about the U visa, see Nolo’s resources on “U Visas for Crime Victims Assisting Law Enforcement.”

by: Jonathan Shaw

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