Immigration Law: U-Visa (for victims of violent crimes)

Miller|Conway, Goose Creek, South Carolina lawyers, are here to assist those persons living in Charleston, Goose Creek and the Southeastern United States with immigration law matters.

A Visa that most people are unfamilar with is the U-Visa.  The U visa was established under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), and was subsequently reauthorized in 2003, 2005, and 2008 (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, or TVPRA).  It was created as humanitarian relief for a vulnerable population, most of which do not have lawful status in the United States. It provides legal status to victims of certain serious crimes who have suffered substantial physical or mental harm and can document cooperation with law enforcement. If favorably adjudicated, the U visa grants permission to remain and work in the U.S. for up to four years, and allows beneficiaries to eventually apply for permanent resident status.

The U visa is a nonimmigrant status that, according to the statute, may be available when:

(I) the alien has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of the following qualifying crimes or substantially similar criminal activity: Rape, Torture, Trafficking, Incest, Domestic violence, Sexual assault, Abusive sexual contact, Prostitution, Sexual exploitation, Female genital mutilation, Being held hostage, Peonage, Involuntary servitude, Slave trade, Kidnapping, abduction, Unlawful criminal restraint, False imprisonment, Blackmail, extortion, Murder, manslaughter, Felonious assault, Witness tampering, Obstruction of justice, Perjury, Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above.

(II) the alien (or in the case of an alien child under the age of 16, the parent, guardian, or next friend of the alien) possesses information concerning the criminal activity;

(III)  the alien (or in the case of an alien child under the age of 16, the parent, guardian, or next friend of the alien) has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to a Federal, State, or local law enforcement official, to a Federal, State, or local prosecutor, to a Federal or State judge, to USCIS, or to other Federal, State, or local authorities investigating or prosecuting the criminal activity; and

(IV) the criminal activity violated the laws of the U.S. or occurred in the U.S. (including in Indian country and military institutions) or the territories and possessions of the U.S.

Generally, the U visa is meant to protect a vulnerable population from being targeted for crimes, by providing those who cooperate with law enforcement the ability to remain lawfully in the U.S. and eventually gain permanent residency.

Miller|Conway is here to help with all of your legal needs.  Should you have any questions or legal issues or concerns please contact us to speak with one of our attorneys.

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