U-visas for Victims of Crime in the U.S.

The United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world. There are over 400 languages spoken and people from every country come to live here. At RelisLaw, we have given hundreds of people legal guidance on how to live in the U.S. and have a chance at a better life. However, not every immigrant story begins with a warm welcome. Immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are statistically less likely to report crimes or seek aid due to fears of deportation. Because of this, undocumented immigrants are extremely vulnerable to violent crime and exploitation. As a firm specializing in immigration law, it’s important to educate people about the options available to them without fear of deportation.

What is a U-visa?

Due to the increase in violent crime against undocumented immigrants and human trafficking, the U.S. passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000, leading to the creation of the U-nonimmigrant status or “U-visa.” Because undocumented immigrants are less likely to report crimes like domestic violence, trafficking, and sexual assault, law enforcement needed a way to protect the victims of these crimes and strengthen their ability to investigate and prosecute offenders. The U-visa is a tool that these victims can use to gain legal status. The hope is that survivors will feel empowered to help in criminal investigations without fear of deportation.

Who is eligible for a U-visa?

There is a long list of eligibility criteria, which is why it’s important to schedule a visa strategy consultation with RelisLaw as soon as possible. It’s important to note that the crimes must have been committed within the U.S. or violated a U.S. law. The criteria includes, but is not limited to:

  • Victims of severe violent crimes and fraud. There are dozens of crimes that qualify. This includes the substantial physical and mental effects resulting from the crimes that have been committed. 
  • You have information that can be used in the investigation of a case. This includes being generally helpful towards law enforcement in regards to the crime.

If you are not or were not allowed to initially enter the U.S., there are certain additional provisions and expectations that must be met, which it’s why it is so important to involve legal counsel. 

Next steps

If you believe that you are eligible for a U-visa, contact our firm immediately to start the process. Your safety is and stability is important to us and no one should have to live in fear. One benefit of the U-visa is that you do not have to be on U.S. soil to qualify. There is a yearly cap for issuing U-visas, however, there is no cap on issuing additional U-visas for the family of the initial applicant. In the event that the cap has already been reached, many applicants may qualify for the waiting list, and can be granted temporary stay and employment authorization with the correct processing. 

U-visas are a powerful legal tool to obtain legal status in the U.S. for undocumented immigrants and victims of serious crimes. Because only 10,000 U-visas are granted each year, there is an extensive vetting process, which is why you need dedicated and passionate legal professionals on your side. If you have questions about U-visas, or want to know about the other options that may be available to you, claim your free visa strategy meeting with RelisLaw by filling out this form.

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We help people from around the world to live and work freely in the U.S., to achieve their dreams, unite families, or escape persecution. No matter what immigration service you need, RelisLaw will provide caring and dependable counsel to you and aggressive advocacy to vigorously fight for you using every available legal avenue. As a global firm, we work with people in countries around the world. We meet clients across the U.S., as well as in New York, Toronto, and Montréal. We also meet with clients globally, located in any country, via Skype and other platforms.