U Visa – Little-known visa available to immigrant crime victims

Great story from the ABA Journal about this not so covered visa option for victims of crime.

This is the story of Sud.

Sud was trapped—literally and figuratively. Hers was an arranged marriage. She had immigrated to the United States after her marriage in 2005 on an H4 visa. The visa made her ineligible to work, unable to get a Social Securi­ty number and completely dependent on her abusive husband.

Sud thought she had little choice but to endure the domestic violence if she wanted to stay in the United States. But she learned that she was eligible for a little-known visa available to otherwise undocumented immigrant crime victims called a U visa. The visa blocks the deportation of people like Sud if they cooperate with law enforcement.

But the wheels of justice turn very slowly in the United States, Sud learned. Although the law creating the visa was passed in 2000, the implementing regulations were not published until 2007, and applications were piling up, further delaying the process. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigra­tion Services, some 14,000 U visa applications were pending before it as of last December. A spokeswoman for the agency attributed the delay to the complicated nature of the process. “A lot of different issues had to be resolved,” she said.

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