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U and T Visas: Victims of Criminal Activity and Human Trafficking


U and T Visas

U Visas

Victims of Criminal Activity; U Nonimmigrant Status

Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The policy grew out of concerns that undocumented immigrants would be afraid of deportation if they called law enforcement to report a crime. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes while, at the same time, offer protection to victims of such crimes. The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse. It is designed to provide lawful status to non-citizen crime victims who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The victim does not have to be the direct victim of the crime. For example, the direct victim was murdered, then the spouse or children under 21 years of age are considered victims that are eligible to apply for a U visa. Also, if the direct victim was a child under 21 years of age, the parents and siblings under the age of 18 are considered victims that are eligible to apply for a U visa.

Our immigration law firm has had the privilege of winning a number of U Visa cases.

Benefits

A U-Visa lets victims of crimes who meet certain requirements stay in the United States. There are also many other benefits that come with obtaining a U Visa. At the time the petition is approved, you will be authorized for employment, and USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document as evidence. Derivative family members of the victim also receive employment authorization, but will have to apply for the Document for a fee. The most important benefit is that the U Visa may independently file for a green card through adjustment of status after being physically present in the US for 3 years since the U visa was granted. As a victim of a serious crime you may be allowed to stay in the United States for up to four years while you assist law enforcement agents with the investigation of the crime, even if you are undocumented and living illegally in the United States.

Green Card

After three years of having a U-Visa you can apply for a green card to stay in the U.S. permanently. (And if you get a green card, you can eventually apply to become a U.S. citizen).

  • The individual must have been physically present in the United for a continuous period of at least three years since the date of admission as a U nonimmigrant.
  • The certifying agency must determine that the individual's continued presence in the country is justified on humanitarian grounds to ensure continuation of a cohesive family, or is otherwise in the national or public interest.
  • The individual must not have unreasonably refused to provide assistance to law enforcement since receiving a U nonimmigrant visa.
  • Requirements:

    There are four statutory eligibility requirements:

  • The individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
  • The individual must have information concerning that criminal activity.
  • The individual must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
  • The criminal activity violated U.S. laws.
  • Three components are needed to make a solid claim for a U Visa:

  • The qualifying crime itself. The list of about 30 offenses covers a number of acts involving physical harm, or placing an immigrant in fear of injury. There does not have to be a conviction.
  • Proof of physical or psychological injury. This evidence can be shown with medical reports and/or psychological evaluations.
  • Cooperation (“Helpfulness with law enforcement”). A police report or testimony in open court are typical examples of this cooperation.
  • Strong U Visa cases include a thorough statement from the victim. Also, there must be a signed certification from a police officer, prosecutor, judge, or other identified official.

    Criminal Activity

    “Qualifying criminal activity” is defined by statute. It is defined as being one or more activities that violate U.S. criminal law, including:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive Sexual Contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False Imprisonment
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Felonious Assault
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trader
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint
  • Other Related Crimes
  • If you are serious about getting immigration assistance a consultation is the best place to start. Spend up to a full hour with an immigration lawyer to discuss the details of your case, get answers to your questions, work through complex issues and supporting documents and plan an immigration strategy for obtaining benefits.

    Schedule a Consultation

    T Visas

    Victims of Human Trafficking; T Nonimmigrant Status

    Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The policy grew out of concerns that undocumented immigrants would be afraid of deportation if they called law enforcement to report a crime. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes while, at the same time, offer protection to victims of such crimes. The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse. It is designed to provide lawful status to non-citizen crime victims who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The victim does not have to be the direct victim of the crime. For example, the direct victim was murdered, then the spouse or children under 21 years of age are considered victims that are eligible to apply for a U visa. Also, if the direct victim was a child under 21 years of age, the parents and siblings under the age of 18 are considered victims that are eligible to apply for a U visa.

    Green Card

    After three years of having a U-Visa you can apply for a green card to stay in the U.S. permanently. (And if you get a green card, you can eventually apply to become a U.S. citizen).

  • The individual must have been physically present in the United for a continuous period of at least three years since the date of admission as a U nonimmigrant.
  • The certifying agency must determine that the individual's continued presence in the country is justified on humanitarian grounds to ensure continuation of a cohesive family, or is otherwise in the national or public interest.
  • The individual must not have unreasonably refused to provide assistance to law enforcement since receiving a U nonimmigrant visa.
  • Qualifications for Human Trafficking and the T Visa

    Congress created U and T visas to encourage the victims of qualifying crimes to cooperate with law enforcement officials. Only certain types of crimes will qualify the victim for a U or T visa. Both T and U visas include the qualifying crime of human trafficking but differ in several aspects:

  • While U Visa qualifying applicants may have entered the U.S. through a variety of means, a T Visa requires that the person entered the United States specifically through human trafficking.
  • U Visa applicants are required to have cooperated with law enforcement but in some circumstances T Visa applicants are not.
  • T Visa applicants are advised to obtain a statement from law enforcement that they have been the victims of human trafficking.
  • If you are serious about getting immigration assistance a consultation is the best place to start. Spend up to a full hour with an immigration lawyer to discuss the details of your case, get answers to your questions, work through complex issues and supporting documents and plan an immigration strategy for obtaining benefits.

    Schedule a Consultation

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