The U and T Visas: Helping Immigrant Victims of Crime

Some immigrants flee to the United States because they are victims of heinous crimes in their home country. To aid these immigrants, the U and T visas offer individuals the opportunity to stay in the United States when they are victims of particular types of crimes in the United States or where the crimes violated U.S. laws.

T Nonimmigrant Status

T Visas are designated for those who are victims of human trafficking. Those holding a T Visa are allowed to remain in the U.S. to help law enforcement investigate or prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Unfortunately, people are sometimes tricked into human trafficking in order to come to the United States because they are promised a better life and employment.

Qualifying for a T Visa

The T Visa is part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, which was passed into law in 2000. Those who qualify for T Visas must establish:

  1. They are or were a victim of trafficking.
  2. They are in the U.S., American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island, or a port of entry because of trafficking.
  3. They comply with reasonable requests of law enforcement to provide assistance in the investigation of human trafficking.
  4. They would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the U.S.
  5. They are admissible into the U.S. or are eligible for a waiver.

U Nonimmigrant Status

Those who are victims of a crime that has caused substantial mental or physical abuse may be able to obtain a U visa/status. Those seeking a U visa/status must demonstrate that they assisted law enforcement to investigate or prosecute those involved in the criminal activity. Common crimes associated with U category include:

  • Rape
  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault or prostitution
  • Any physical or mental abuse
  • Fraud in foreign labor contracting
  • Hostage or kidnapping
  • Obstruction of justice or witness tampering
  • Blackmail or extortion
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Female genital mutilation

Many other types of similar crimes are also associated with U visa/status eligibility.

Eligibility for U Visas

One must meet certain criteria to qualify for a U visa/status. Generally, the following requirements will apply:

  1. You are the victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
  2. You suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to the criminal activity
  3. You have information about the crimes.
  4. You were helpful, are currently useful, or likely to be beneficial to police or other law enforcement in prosecuting or investigating the offense.
  5. The crime either occurred within the United States or violated U.S. laws.
  6. You are admissible to the United States or qualify for a waiver.

Those who are under the age of 16 and need help in providing information can use a parent or guardian or next of kin to help police on your behalf.

Applying for these U or T visas/status is complicated and difficult. An experienced immigration attorney can be a valuable resource. Call our office at (305) 448-0077 for more information.