The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (VTVPA) was passed in 2000. It encourages victims to report crimes and to contribute to the investigation and prosecution. Immigrants who participate are temporarily exempt from deportation. Under VTVPA, victims of certain crimes are able to apply for a U visa which offers nonimmigrant status. This allows the victim to temporarily remain in the U.S.
Qualifying crimes includes: Abduction, Abusive Sexual Contact, Blackmail, Domestic Violence, Extortion, False, Imprisonment, Felonious Assault, Female Genital, Mutilation, Felonious Assault, Being Held, Hostage, Incest, Involuntary, Servitude, Kidnapping, Manslaughter, Murder, Obstruction of Justice, Peonage, Perjury, Prostitution, Rape, Sexual Assault, Sexual Exploitation, Slave Trade, Torture, Trafficking, Witness Tampering, Unlawful Criminal Restraint or Other Related Crimes.
To qualify, one must complete Form I-918 to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) and include relevant documents such as Form I-918B (the U visa law enforcement certification). Form I-918B is required to confirm to USCIS that a qualifying crime has occured. The form must be certified by a “certifying agency” which can be law enforcement agencies, prosecutor offices’, judges, family protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Departments of Labor, or investigative agencies. Law enforcement offices are not required to complete a certification.
A U visa recipient receives nonimmigrant status to live and work in the United States for no longer than 4 years. Qualified recipients may apply to adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident (green card) after three years. The petitioner will have to meet other eligibility requirements for a green card as well, including the ongoing cooperation with law enforcement. Additionally, certain immediate family members of U visa recipients may also be eligible to live and work in the United States.