Published January 4, 2016

Each year 10,000 U visas – which include employment authorization and a path to permanent residence – are made available for foreign nationals who have been the victims of various enumerated crimes, and who are willing, or active, witnesses in the prosecution of the criminal perpetrator.     As of last week, the 10,000 U visa allotment for fiscal year 2016, which runs from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2015, has been exhausted, although the Department of Homeland of Security will continue to accept applications throughout the year (for fiscal year 2017 consideration) and even grant temporary employment authorizations to certain eligible applicants.

In general, for a U visa applicant to be approved, he/she must document:  A) they suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a victim of certain “qualifying criminal activity,”  B) they are in possession of reliable information surrounding the commission of the qualifying criminal act, C) they have been or are willing to be,  of assistance to law enforcement or prosecutorial officials AND D) the criminal act occurred in the U.S. or U.S. territory/possession (or violated qualifying U.S. federal laws).   Qualifying criminal activity for U visa eligibility includes:  abduction, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, felonious assault, fraud in labor contracting, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, perjury, prostitution, rape, sexual assault, torture, trafficking, unlawful criminal restraint and, witness tampering – among others.  Furthermore, being a victim of “any similar activities” in violation of federal, state or local criminal laws may also establish eligibility for U visa consideration.

PUBLISHED January 4, 2016– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2016, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois