There are many different types of visas that you can apply for and be awarded. One of the most rarely talked about is the U nonimmigrant visa (shortened U visa), which is a visa that is strictly for individuals who are victims of crimes in which they suffered significant physical or mental abuse and agree to assist government officials in investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the crime.
As this is a type of visa that very few people ever hear about, there are a large number of common questions related to the U visa. It was created by Congress in October 2000, when the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (which includes the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) was passed. That legislation was meant to grant law enforcement officers much greater tools with which to prosecute cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, and many other crimes, including trafficking of aliens. It also enables law enforcement officers greater abilities to help victims of such crimes.
Generally, the first question that anyone asks after hearing about the U visa is what the eligibility requirements are. In order to be eligible, a person must:
- Have been the victim of a qualifying crime, from which they suffered significant psychological or physical abuse
- Have information that law enforcement officers can use to investigate the crime
- Be helpful or have been helpful to law enforcement agencies in the prosecution of the crime
- Have been a victim of a crime that was in direct violation of United States law