Victims of certain criminal activities that either occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws may be eligible to petition for U nonimmigrant status to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Victims must have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the criminal activity and possess information concerning that criminal activity. Law enforcement authorities must also certify that the victim has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Eligibility for this visa often arises who people are forced into crime rings, organized crime or are members of families or groups who perpetuate crimes and do not feel that they have the ability to refrain from participating. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve victims of crimes.