Victims of Criminal Activity

As part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Action of 2000, entitled the "Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000," Congress created a nonimmigrant visa status (referred to as "U visa" status) for victims of criminal activity.

The U-Visa status is for noncitizen victims of a crime who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and who assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

Attorney for the U-Visa in The Woodlands, TX

If you have, unfortunately, been the victim of mental or physical abuse after your spouse or significant other has committed domestic violence against you, then contact an experienced immigration attorney to find out how to apply for a U-Visa.

An experienced immigration attorney can help you file a petition for temporary residence in the U.S. as a victim of criminal activity. To qualify for the U-Visa, you must cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. Additionally, you may not be permitted to leave the country while the U-Visa is pending.

Luis F. Hess also helps the victims of human trafficking petition for a T-Visa which also requires that you cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. To qualify for a T-Visa, the person must be a victim of severe forms of human trafficking.

Attorney Luis F. Hess is an experienced immigration attorney for The Woodlands, TX. He helps clients stay in the country legally from his office in Shenandoah, Texas, just north of The Woodlands. He fights for clients to remain in the U.S. during such a traumatic time in their lives. Luis F. Hess, PLLC accepts cases from clients throughout Montgomery County and Harris County, Texas, including the areas surrounding Conroe, Shenandoah, The Woodlands, Spring, and Houston.

Call Luis F. Hess, PLLC at (281) 205-8540 today.

The Purpose of the U-Visa

Understanding how to apply for a visa as a victim of criminal activity involves understanding the legislative intent behind the law. Section 1513 of the legislation provides:

"The purpose of this section is to create a new nonimmigrant visa classification that will strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to detect, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens, and other crimes described in section 101(a)(15)(U)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act committed against aliens, while offering protection to victims of such offenses in keeping with humanitarian interests of the United States."

114 Stat. at 1533.

This legislation created the U-Visa and was codified in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The U-Visa statutory provision is found in 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(U)(I), which is also referred to as the U-1 nonimmigrant visa statute. Regulations related to the U-Visa are promulgated by the USCIS.

When filing for a visa as a victim of criminal violence, the noncitizen bears the burden of establishing eligibility for U-Visa status. An experienced immigration attorney like Luis F. Hess can hlep you show the reasons why you are eligible for the U-Visa. After the Agency approves an individual’s status, it is valid for four years. After maintaining U-Visa status for three years, the holder may apply for lawful permanent resident status. 

8 U.S.C. § 1101 also permits a noncitizen victim who is 21 years of age or older and holds a U-Visa to petition for derivative U-Visa status on behalf of a spouse or children who are “accompanying, or following to join” the victim.

8 C.F.R. § 214.14 provides the following regulations:

  • “An alien who has petitioned for or has been granted U–1 nonimmigrant status (i.e., principal alien) may petition for the admission of a qualifying family member ... if accompanying or following to join such principal alien.”
  • “The relationship between the U–1 principal alien and the qualifying family member must exist at that the applicant filed [for U-1 status], and the relationship must continue to exist at the [derivative status] is adjudicated, and at the time of the qualifying family member's subsequent admission to the United States.” 

Exceptions may apply when the person applying is under 21 and has an unmarried sibling under 18 or for children of the person submitting the petition.

Other types of visas that are not related to a family or business purpose include visas for a witnesses or informants and visas for the victims of human trafficking or labor trafficking.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, January 3, 2017.