Each week, TuBoston.com invites its readers to write questions to Keith Pabian, an immigration attorney in Boston. Attorney Pabian will answer your questions in each issue. To submit a question, please email Attorney Pabian at kpabian@pabianrussell.com.

Q: I have been the victim of domestic violence and a friend told me about the U visa. What is this visa and am I eligible to apply for it?

A: The U visa is a temporary United States visa that is available to non-U.S. Citizens who have suffered physical or mental abuse as a result of a crime committed in the United States. Examples of crimes that have led to U visas are rape, sexual assault, torture, human trafficking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude (slavery), witness to tampering, abduction, domestic violence, incest, female genital mutilation, and being held hostage.

An applicant for a U visa does not have to be married to a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident. Additionally, the government does not require that a person be in a relationship with the person who committed the crime. Therefore, a rape victim is eligible for a U visa.

A major requirement for obtaining a U visa is that applicants must show that they have been helpful, are being helpful, or will likely be helpful to law enforcement for an investigation or prosecution of the crime in question. Therefore, a person not willing to talk to the police about the crime committed against them will have trouble in being issued a U visa.

I recently assisted a client with a U visa case. My client was a Chinese woman who had been raped while in the United States on a student visa. She reported the rape to the police, but the police never charged the rapist. Nevertheless, because my client was able to show that she helped the police with their rape investigation, she was able to obtain a U visa.

The largest benefit to the U visa is that after a person possesses a U visa for three years, they are able to apply for U.S. permanent residency and obtain a green card.

If you are a non-U.S. Citizen and have been the victim of a crime, I strongly encourage you to contact me to discuss your situation in more detail.

Keith A. Pabian, Esq. is an Immigration Attorney at Pabian & Russell, LLC. Attorney Pabian can be reached at (617) 951-3721 or by email at kpabian@pabianrussell.com if you would like to schedule a consultation or are in need of immigration assistance or advice.

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