Saturday, December 9, 2017

What is a U Visa?

uscitizenpod: What is a U Visa?

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs very year from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day. You can learn more at or checkout Twitter or Instagram hashtags #16days, #16daysofactivism, or #OrangeTheWorld

There is no Citizenship interview or quiz today. Instead we are going to talk about the USCIS U Visa: Relief for Victims of Criminal Activity. Listen and learn--there maybe something on this short podcast that you can use to help a friend, a family member, or even a total stranger.

This podcast is a follow-up to our December 4 podcast about the T Visa: Relief for Victims of Human Trafficking. Also see our Nov 25 blog post, Resources for immigrants Against Gender-Based Violence Look for our Dec 10 post: Resources for Human Rights Day; and Dec 15, Bill of Rights Day Let's get started.

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is relief for the victims of violent crimes. In 2000, Congress passed a law called the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act which included the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act. This law strengthened the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute violent crimes committed in the United States such as: Domestic Violence, Female Genital Mutilation, Incest, Marriage Fraud, Prostitution, Sexual Assault,and Trafficking.

When these crimes occur, many victims choose to remain silent because of their immigration status, inability to speak English, or mistrust of the "strangers" such as police or doctors. A victim may avoid getting medical attention for her injuries because questions that might be asked that are too painful to answer. She doesn't want to answer the question, "Who hurt you?" Although it may seem that she is protecting her abuser, she simply wants the pain to stop. And sometimes a victim to too ashamed to tell her own friends and family.

To fight against these violent crimes in the immigrant community, the USCIS issues a U visa, which allows documented and undocumented victims to stay and work temporarily in the United States. In return, the victims help the police by identifying criminals and testifying about crimes.

The U Visa can lead to legal permanent status and naturalization for the survivor and their immediate family. Because of the many laws involved with violent crimes, a victim is strongly advised to work with lawyers accredited through the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The lawyers can help the crime victim fill out USCIS Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. It is also helpful to include Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification in which a law enforcement official provides more information about the criminal case.

Finally, the victim must write a personal letter (statement) which describes the crime and how it changed the victim's life. The victim may also need to provide police, court, or medical records related to the crime. More forms are needed to apply for visas for a survivor's family members. But the time and effort is worth it. The victim is not only fighting for justice on their own behalf, they are helping to restore the peace and security in their own family and community at large.

If you are a victim of a violent crime, call 911.

To learn more about the U Visa, go to

Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status  

Víctimas de actos criminales: estatus U de no inmigrante

I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status

ILRC: U Visa/T Visa/VAWA

ILRC: A Guide to Obtaining U Visa Certifications

ILRC: Cómo obtener una visa U: Ayuda inmigratoria para victimas de crimen

ILRC: Immigration Relief for Immigrant Survivors of Abuse: Comparative Quick Reference Chart

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