Immigration. What is a U Visa?

Everyone has questions about US immigration law. An immigration attorney with over 30 years of experience provides some answers about the U Visa.

Word about the U-visa is traveling fast.  What may have been the worst day in an
undocumented victim’s life may turn out to also be the best day. 


The U-visa was enacted to encourage undocumented victims of
crimes to come forward to help law enforcement in the prosecution of criminals.
In the past, many undocumented persons were afraid to come forward, afraid to
contact the police to report a crime, and afraid of our legal system because of
their undocumented status.  Undocumented
victims thought that by coming forward to report a crime, they might be putting
themselves or their families in jeopardy.  
Some undocumented parents had US citizen children who were sick and
receiving medical treatment, and feared that if they reported a crime, they
might be deported/removed from the US themselves. 


Failure to report a crime affects us all.  Encouraging everyone to come forward and
report crimes is in the best interests of our communities.  We all need to work together to ensure that
criminals are taken off the streets of our communities.  The U-visa encourages anyone who has been the
victim of a crime to come forward, without the fear of deportation from our


The U-Visa gives victims temporary legal status and
Employment Authorization cards (which in turn allow a person to obtain a Social
Security number and state driver’s license), for up to 4 years, with the
ability to apply for Permanent Residency (Green Card status after 3


Congress has capped the number of U-visas which can be
issued annually at 10,000, not including family members.


Victims may be documented or undocumented; victims may have
prior orders of removal or deportation; and victims may be convicted of prior
minor offenses themselves.  The U-visa
will forgive a previous deportation order, and will forgive someone who has left
and entered the country illegally. 
Family members who may also be included are spouses, children, unmarried
sisters and brothers under 18, mothers, fathers, stepparents and adoptive
parents, and even those living in another country. 


The U-visa is designed to help victims who have suffered
substantial physical or mental abuse due to a criminal activity in a number of
crimes of violence including most sexual crimes, perjury, blackmail, and assault crimes, amongst others.  The U visa also helps to make our communities
safer from crime. 


The victim must be willing to try to assist local law
enforcement and the crime must have occurred in the US or in a US territory, or violated US law.


Since 2009, US Citizenship and Immigration Services has a
77% approval rate for U-visas. 


I encourage anyone who has been the victim of a crime, to
come forward and consider filing for a U-visa, no matter how old the crime may
be, no matter whether the crime is still open, or a conviction was reached.





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