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U Visa for Crime Victims

What is a U Visa?

There are a limited number of visas for cime victims – and their immediate family members – of specific crimes, who have subsequently suffered from some form of mental, emotional, or physical abuse, and who are deemed potentially useful to investigators, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies in regards to the same crime that victimized them.

Congress recognized that without some form of immigration status that protects immigrant victims from retaliation, few undocumented victims would be willing to assist in the judicial system – either criminal or civil. Through part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) legislation that was recently re-authorized, Congress provided a specific avenue for immigrant victims to obtain temporary status (the U Visa) to alleviate these fears felt by many undocumented immigrants.

This visa was created to bring the police and the undocumented community together to fight against crime. Just because you were a victim of a crime, does not entitle you to a visa. Obtaining a U Visa is not automatic. It is a complicated process with many steps.

What Crimes Qualify for a U Visa?

Not all crimes qualify for a U Visa. To qualify, it must be a violent crime such as an assault with a deadly weapon or domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, blackmail or extortion, or kidnapping. If you were a victim of a crime, you need to check with a qualified immigration attorney to see if you were a victim of a qualifying crime.

How Do I Apply for a U Visa?

In order to apply for the visa, the undocumented immigrant should cooperate with investigators and/or prosecutor because they must certify that you were helpful in their investigation or prosecution of the crime for which you