The U visa provides a specific avenue for immigrant crime victims to avoid deportation and obtain lawful immigration status. Further, it extends these protections to victims of some other types of crime commonly directed at immigrants. Prosecutors, local law enforcement and the judiciary are critical elements to the U-visa application process.
To qualify for a U visa, an immigrant must
- Prove that she or he has suffered "substantial physical or mental abuse" as a result of one of the following forms of 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, manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, perjury, attempted perjury, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes
- Show that she possesses information concerning criminal activity
- Provide certification from a federal, state or local law enforcement official, prosecutor or judge that states that the U-visa applicant is being, has been or is likely to be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
It must be noted that this list of crimes is not comprehensive. Consequently, an immigrant victim of an ordinary theft would not be able to apply for a U visa. An immigrant victim of unfair employment practices, however, may qualify for the visa.
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