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U Visa’s aims:

  1. to give immigrants an incentive to cooperate with police.
  2. to make immigrants less desirable as easy target.
  3. stop ICE from deporting victims who can help police bring criminals to justice.

Who qualifies:

  • any alien, regardless of their immigration status (with caveats for bad folks)
  • the person has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of criminal activity;
  • the person has credible and reliable information regarding the criminal activity;
  • the person is willing to assist government officials in the investigation or prosecution of such criminal activity; and
  • the criminal activity violated US law or occurred in the United States.

What the immigrants will get:

  1. Legal status and work authorization for the immigrant, spouse and kids under 21 years of age.
  2. The right to work and live in the United States for five years.
  3. The right to apply for a green card after four years and citizenship five years after that.
  4. Possible authorization to travel, but this is risky depending on their immigration transgressions.

What crimes qualify:

  • 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
  • attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes
  • “any similar activity,” refers to criminal offenses in which the nature and elements of the offenses are substantially similar to the statutorily enumerated list of criminal activities.

What is the process:

  1. After the crime, the victim has to cooperate in the investigation of the crime (with police or district attorney etc.)
  2. The police or other authority than must sign a ‘certificate of cooperation (aka I-918 sup. B).
  3. Alien then files I-918 with supporting documentation to show they qualify.

Scott McVarish, Lead Attorney at the Immigration Law Office of Los Angeles, is available for speaking engagements, interviews, seminars and trainings on this and many other immigration law topics. Providing pro bono (donated) legal services at such community education events are part of this law office’s “Giving Back” to the community philosophy.