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U Visa

To encourage alien victims of crimes in the U.S. to come forth to help law enforcement, regardless of whether the alien is documented or undocumented, Congress in 2000 created a path for these victims to obtain legal status, at first for three years, and at the end of the third year permanent residence. The afflicted alien must try to assist in any way needed to assist in the criminal investigation, thereby to justify temporary residence and thereafter permanent residence status as a means to assist in criminal enforcement. The law is also for humanitarian considerations, or family unity or because it is in the public interest.


Substantial crimes of violence including sexual crimes of every type and description including slavery, kidnapping, obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering are examples of the crimes that may help an alien victim receive the U visa. The crimes must have taken place in the U.S. Undocumented alien victims often avoid accusing their abusers because they fear that the government on finding that they are illegal will seek to deport them. The U visa was created to demonstrate to these victims that they will be shielded and helped. Thus the U visa is a way for alien victims to obtain permanent residence. The U visa protects the victim and enables the government to enhance prosecutorial detection and enforcement.


To file for a U visa, federal state, city and town law departments who are normally contacted for law enforcement issues are the agencies qualified to provide Certifications to the alien victims of substantial crimes. A chief of a department or supervisor must sign the Certification. Since police, sheriffs, marshals and other law officers can verify a victim’s helpfulness in reporting a crime and aiding in an investigation, the victim’s eligibility depends on presenting this Certification to the Department of Homeland Security. This program enables law agencies to detect, investigate and prosecute crimes and helps the victims to obtain work permission, relief from deportation and ultimately permanent residence. The Certification needs to specify the details of the crime, and describe how the victim has cooperated in the prosecution. A Certification may be given even though the case never leads to a prosecution, provided the criminal activity has been shown and the perpetrator has been identified and then a Certification may be issued. Still the victim must be available in future to aid the prosecution, and to testify if necessary. After the issuance of the Certification, the DHS may then determine the victim’s entitlement to permanent residence.

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