u-visaIn 2000, the United States Congress passed new legislation aimed directly at immigrants and their families, which help them who have been affected by certain specific crimes; the relatives could be parents, children, spouses and family members under 18, in the event that the principal applicant is under 21, the family application may only be made in the name of their spouses or children.

The U visa or U nonimmigrant status, has a maximum term of 4 years, the  eligibility requirements that must be met by those who apply are:

  1. Having been a victim of physical or mental abuse.
  2. Collaborate with the case investigation, which must be presented and reported to the relevant authorities.
  3. The crime must have occurred in the United States or violated laws of the same country.
  4. If the person has been considered inadmissible, must present other additional documents

The USCIS lists the crimes that are part of the eligibility for the U non-immigrant status request:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive Sexual Contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False Imprisonment
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Felonious Assault
  • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint
  • Other Related Crimes

The principal U non-immigrant status applicants, don’t need to fill out any additional forms to obtain the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), but their family members with U-1 visa should.

The number of U visas issued has a limit of 10.000 per fiscal year. The applications are never rejected immediately, they are received, and they goes to approval process, which can take many years before it is approved or not. In the event that you have not been one of the 10.000 lucky ones, you will go in a waiting list and you will be notified with a delayed status until the last notification.

After your U visa is approved, you have to wait 3 of the 4 years of validity of this non-immigrant status to be eligible to request a Green card; equally these people must meet certain requirements imposed by American law.

What are the differences between the T Visa and U Visa?

Although both statuses are focused on helping victims of certain crimes, there is a main difference you should know when you are going to apply: in case you’re applying to the T visa, you must take into account that you can only request it if you were a human trafficking victim. In  the case you’re applying for the U visa, you must have been physical or sexual abuse victim.

If you are or were a victim of the crimes we named, contact us. We are Quiroga Law Office, PLLC, and we have immigration lawyers who will provide you personalized advice, and we will explain everything you need to know and what you should do in these scenarios.

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Hector E. Quiroga
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