The U visa is set aside for victims of certain criminal activity who suffered substantial mental or physical harm as a result of the criminal activity, and who cooperate in the investigation and/or prosecution of the criminal activity. Among other evidence, the applicant is required to submit a written certification by a government official involved in the criminal case that the applicant was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation and/or prosecution of the criminal activity. Certain family members of principal U Visa holders can obtain derivative status. An individual who is granted a U Visa, and qualifying family members, may eventually apply for a green card.
These special visas are specifically made available for victims of human trafficking, such as immigrants brought to the US and forced to work hard labor or forced into prostitution to pay for their passage. As with the U Visa, the immigrant must comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation and/or prosecution of the human trafficking. Certain qualifying family members of principal T Visa holders can obtain derivative status. An individual who is granted a T Visa, and qualifying family members, may eventually apply for a green card.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
For victims of domestic violence, as an alternative to the U visa, VAWA allows an immigrant who is the spouse, parent, or child of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder), and who has suffered extreme cruelty at the hands of the US citizen or lawful permanent resident, to obtain lawful status without needing to ask for sponsorship from the abusive US citizen or lawful permanent resident. Immigrants granted VAWA status will be permitted to remain in the US with valid employment authorization, and may be eligible for a green card.