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Relief for Crime Victims: The Passage of the U Visa

In October of 2000, Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The legislation was created to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute cases and while at the same time protecting those who have been victims of serious crimes.  The legislation requires the victim to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services can only issue 10,000 U visas per fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from October 1st to September 30th.    Since its inception, most if not all U visas have run out before the end of the fiscal year, creating an enormous backlog for those awaiting a final decision on their application. On average, one must wait up to three years for visas to become available.

Who is eligible?:

  • The applicant must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity (see below what crimes qualify as criminal activity)
  • The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of these criminal activities.
  • The applicant must have information concerning that criminal activity.
  • The applicant must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
  • The criminal activity occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
  • The applicant is admissible to the United States under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations.

Qualifying Crimes:

Abduction                                      False Imprisonment                                 Perjury

Abusive Sexual Contact              Female Genital Mutilation                       Peonage

Blackmail                                       Felonious Assault                                       Murder

Domestic Violence                        Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting       Incest

Extortion                                       Involuntary Servitude                              Hostage

Kidnapping                                     Manslaughter                                            Rape

Obstruction of Justice                  Prostitution                                                Slave Trade

Sexual Assault                                Sexual Exploitation                                  Stalking

Witness Tampering                       Trafficking                                                 Torture

Unlawful Criminal Restraint

Other related Crimes, including attempt, conspiracy, or                                                                                      solicitation.

Applicants must submit a petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, Form I-918. In addition, applicants must submit Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. This document certifies that the applicant helped in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. A personal statement must be included describing the criminal activity suffered by the victim and how they helped in the prosecution. Please visit an attorney to discuss the requirements and issues for potential U-Visa applicatants.

To obtain more information, please contact me at

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