U Visas and T Visas
Victim/survivors of qualifying criminal activity and human trafficking are given special benefits under US immigration law, if they meet certain criteria.
U Visas are available to persons who are helpful to the investigation or prosecution of certain criminal activity, including: domestic violence, blackmail, extortion, felonious assault, kidnapping, among other specified crimes. See, INA 101(a)(15)(U). The applicant must demonstrate that he or she suffered "substantial physical or mental abuse," and was helpful to law enforcement. Importantly, a certification from law enforcement, a prosecuting agency, or a judge is required in order to file for a U Visa. Notably, in various jurisdictions, there may be a "statute of limitations" imposed by the agency as to whether the agency will certify the case. Additionally, US Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") also evaluates the applicant's overall worthiness of an exercise of discretion; therefore, merely being a victim of a crime may not be enough to qualify for U Nonimmigrant status. Inadmissibilities are taken into account by USCIS in its analysis of the case. Applicants may also include certain family members as derivatives on the application. Given the variables and technicalities involved in this and any application, it is imperative that any potential victim speak with an immigration attorney about eligibility for a U Visa before applying.
T Visas are available to persons who are victims of human trafficking present in the United States, who comply with reasonable requests for assistance by a US investigative agency, and who would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the United States. See, INA 101(a)(15)(T). There may not necessarily be charges raised against the traffickers, but so long as the individual is available to comply with requests for assistance as needed, a prosecuting agency may certify an applicant's eligibility. The T Visa also allows for certain family members to qualify as derivatives.
Notably, both the U and T Visas may lead to eligibility for adjustment of status after a period of continuous presence in the United States. Tedesco Legal, P.C. is experienced in all such applications. Contact our office to discuss potential eligibility.