The purpose of the U visa is to help victims of a particular set of crimes that have suffered physical or mental abuse and have worked with US law enforcement to help bring the perpetrator(s) of the crime to justice.
The U visa was introduced with the passing of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The intention was to give law enforcement agencies better powers in investigating these crimes while also offering more protection to the victims.
Here is a closer look at the eligibility criteria for a U visa.
You must be a victim of one of the qualifying crimes
That’s the first criterion that has to be met in order to be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa. There is a long list of crimes available here but it includes offenses such as domestic violence, kidnapping, murder, rape and human trafficking.
If the visa applicant has been a victim of one of the qualifying crimes, it needs to be proven that they suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of the criminal activity.
In addition to the above, the additional criteria are that the victim must:
- Have information about the crime,
- Intend to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the crime
- Have been victim to a crime that occurred in the US, and
- be in the US legally
Being a victim of crime is an incredibly difficult time. It can be very challenging both emotionally and physically. Having the added stress of how this can affect your immigration status is something you can’t risk. If you have found yourself in this position, it’s important to seek some early legal assistance from someone who can help you to make sure you get the help and support you need.