The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act WAS PASSED in October 2000 and established a “U” nonimmigrant visa. This is a temporary visa that is set-aside for victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse due to one of the enumerated crimes. The victim must not only have information about the criminal activity but also be willing to assist the government agencies in the investigation of the criminal activity. The USCIS may grant up to 10,000 of these visas per year. A person granted U visa status may stay in the United States up to four (4) years.
In order to be eligible for the U visa, there are four (4) requirements: 1) The person must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity; 2) the person has information about the criminal activity; 3) the person has been helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and 4) the criminal activity must have violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the U.S.
Not every type of criminal activity will quality. In order to qualify for U visa relief, the person must be a victim of one or more of the following crimes or any similar activity in violation of Federal State, or local criminal law: rape; torture; trafficking; incest; domestic violence; sexual assault; abusive sexual contact; prostitution; sexual exploitation; female genital mutilation; being held hostage; peonage; involuntary servitude; slave trade; kidnapping; abduction; unlawful criminal restraint; false imprisonment; blackmail; extortion; manslaughter; murder; felonious assault; witness tampering; obstruction of justice; perjury; or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes.
In the U Visa petition, it must contain a certification of helpfulness from a certifying agency. Examples of certifying agencies include federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies, or a prosecutor, judge, or other authority that has responsibility for the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The rule also includes other agencies such as child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor, since they have criminal investigative jurisdiction within their respective areas of expertise. The signed certification would show that the individual “has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
A person granted U visa might have accompanying family members. If the victim is less than 21 years old, the qualifying family members who may be dependents are the principal’s spouse, children, unmarried siblings under 18, and parents. If the principal victim is 21 or older, qualifying members include the spouse and children of the principal.
For any fiscal year that runs from October 1 to September 30, the USCIS may approve 10,000 U Visa applications.
The U visa can result in the greencard after the victim has been in the United States for a continuous period of three (3) years after approval of the U visa and the certifying agency must certify that the person’s presence in the US is justified on humanitarian grounds or is in the best interest of the public. To ensure continuation of a cohesive family, or is otherwise in the best interest of the public.
For more information contact
Victoria J. Suh, Esq.*
Tsoi & Associates, Lawyers
3580 Wilshire Bl Ste 720 L A, CA 90010
Tel 213-387-2888 *Fax 213-387-2882