Criminals prey on the weak and vulnerable. Undocumented women and children in the United States often feel trapped between violence and crimes against them, and the Government who may want to deport them if discovered. Dialing 9-1-1 is not the first thing an undocumented immigrant thinks of when witnessing or being victimized by a crime. In 2000, the US Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act). This created the U visa. It was a bold move to protect all of us, by protecting witnesses and victims that come forward to aid police in catching bad guys. Crimes like sexual assault, domestic violence, kidnapping, human trafficking, extortion, rape, murder, and other violent offenses and threats, were under-reported by witnesses and victims afraid of retaliation by their victimizers, OR the government agents sent to investigate the crimes.
Imagine a family living in a sweatshop toiling away like slaves, afraid to step out side or talk to strangers. Or a woman and her children being abused by her husband, and being sent away from a shelter because she didn’t have means to get a legal job and live on her own. Or something that effects all of us: the witness to a violent crime in your neighborhood slipping away into the shadows rather than coming forward to help police catch the perpetrator. Justice is not being served in these scenarios. The U visa give protections to these victims and witnesses to come forward and aid police and prosecutors, without fear of being deported for their good citizenship. It helps law enforcement catch bad guys while rewarding the Good Samaritan.
The USCIS has six legal requirements for U non-immigrant status. A person may be eligible if:
- The applicant must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity (see below).
- The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of these criminal activities.
- The applicant must have information concerning that criminal activity.
- The applicant must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- The criminal activity occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
- The applicant is admissible to the United States under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations.
Qualifying Criminal Activities:
- Abduction, kidnapping, false imprisonment, hostage, unlawful criminal restraint, involuntary servitude
- Abusive Sexual Contact, incest, rape, sexual assault,
- Domestic Violence, felonious assault, stalking, torture
- Fraud in foreign labor contracting
- Murder, manslaughter
- Blackmail, extortion, obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering
- Trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation, peonage, slave trade, female genital mutilation
- And other related crimes, including similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar. Also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes.
The U visa protections count for the immigrant, and also for their family. It is a way to protect the vulnerable whilst delivering justice to those who would prey on them.
It is important to make as many aware of the U visa option as possible. There are people locked in sweat shops, or being abused by a spouse, or that have been trafficked into servitude suffering TODAY. We need to spread the word that this option is there for them, and that regardless of who is President, they can come forward safely.
At Visawolf, we are attorneys. As attorneys, we see a bigger picture of immigration, laws, and crimes than many immigration services. Our primary concern is for Justice, and the U visa is a very important too to help Justice prevail. Police get the tips, prosecutors get the evidence, a trial gets the eye witness, the perpetrator faces court, and the victims see Justice. It is a Win Win for all involved, and does not threaten to jail and send away an undocumented person for doing the right thing. This sums up the American system.
Visawolf has offices in Northern and Central California, and serves clients in Seattle, San Francisco, LA, and around California and the world. For more information about our services, or to schedule a consultation with the immigration attorneys at our law firm, simply click here. Find out more about the U visa and about Visawolf here. Our multi-lingual team provides immigration services in English, Chinese, and Spanish.