The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was passed in 2000 creating the “U” nonimmigrant classification. The U visa is available for undocumented immigrants who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a criminal activity. The individual must demonstrate the following: he or she has information concerning the criminal activity; the law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, or other investigating authorities provided a certification indicating that the individual has been helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful; the criminal activity must have violated the laws of the United States, or have occurred in the United States.

The victim of the criminal activity must file Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, at the Vermont Service Center. To determine what qualifies as a violation of a criminal activity, guidance is provided by statute that the activity is in violation of a Federal, State or local criminal law. Examples include but are not limited to rape, torture, sexual exploitation, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, abduction, false imprisonment, murder, blackmail, and obstruction of justice. Along with the petition, the individual must provide evidence that he or she suffered direct and proximate harm as a result of the criminal activity. The evidence may include trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, news articles, affidavits, or orders of protection.

Until the final regulations are issued, individuals who demonstrate eligibility for U visas are granted interim relief. Following the grant of interim relief, the individual may apply for work authorization. After three years of being present in the United States, and for humanitarian grounds, the U visa holder may adjust his or her status.

To learn more about the U visa and its process, please contact us at 214-999-9999.