As a Miami immigration lawyer, I would like to remind potentially eligible individuals about a law that Congress passed in 2000 known as the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), which created two categories of non-immigrant visas, U visa for victims of certain crimes and T visas for victims of trafficking. This blog post will focus on some frequently asked questions about the U Visa.
Why was the special category of the U Visa created?
This nonimmigrant class of admission provides temporary status to individuals in the United States who are or have been victims of a severe form of trafficking or who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as victims of criminal activity. This law was intended to combat trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and involuntary servitude, and to reauthorize certain federal programs to prevent violence against immigrant women and children. It provides the similar immigrant benefits as those available to refugees, with an added path to permanent resident status. If you have any questions in regard to the U visa, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
U visas for Victims of Crime
U visas are available to individuals who are victims of certain types of criminal activity, or who possess information concerning such activity. All applicants are fingerprinted for criminal background checks and are not required to undergo an interview with a USCIS (formerly INS) examiner. Applicants are eligible for work permits upon approval. Individuals granted U visa status may adjust to legal permanent resident status three years after they are granted U visa status. Derivative visas are available to spouses, children, parents, or in some cases, siblings of the principal applicant. There is an annual limit of 10,000 U visas, applicable only to principals and not to derivatives. If no visa number is available at the time the application is approved, the applicant is put on a waiting list and given temporary immigration status and work authorization until a number becomes available. Again, if you have any questions in regard to the U Visa, you may want to consider speaking with a Miami immigration lawyer.
Am I eligible for the U Visa?
You may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if:
- You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
- You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
- You have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on your behalf
- You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf.
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
- You are admissible to the United States.
Again, if you have any questions in regard to the U Visa, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
What kinds of qualifying criminal activities are considered for the U Visa?
The following crimes are considered for the U Visa, including but not limited to:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
If you would like more information on the U Visa, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at murraysilva.com.