U-VISAS

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (VTVPA) of 2000 passed with bipartisan support in Congress.  The purpose behind this act was to encourage victims to report crimes and contribute to investigations and prosecutions regardless of immigration status, and to support law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute crimes committed against immigrant victims.

The U Visa is an important immigration benefit available to victims of certain qualifying crimes who are currently assisting or have previously assisted law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.  U Visa status is generally granted for a period of 4 years.  If certain conditions are met, an individual with ‘U’ nonimmigrant status may also apply to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident.  Unfortunately, Congress capped the number of available U visas to 10,000 per fiscal year, which is starting to result in longer waiting times as more than 10,000 people per year are eligible to apply.

The process for applying for a U visa begins by obtaining a U visa certification from a law enforcement agency, which may include the local police, prosecutor, or other qualifying government agency.  Whichever agency signs the form must confirm that the victim of the qualifying crime was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.

If you were the victim of a crime in the United Stats and believe you may be eligible for a U visa, it is essential to review the facts of your case with a qualified immigration attorney before proceeding with your case.