American immigration law, especially since several changes were made in the late 1990s, has a reputation for being very strict.  This reputation is appropriate.  However, there are several ways in which immigration law is generous and fair, and takes into consideration the desperate circumstances of different individuals and families.  One way that the government does this is through the U-Visa.

First, I should offer a definition of a U-Visa.  This is from the website of the Department of Homeland Security:

The U-Visa is an immigration benefit that can be sought by victims of certain crimes who are currently assisting or have previously assisted law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of a crime, or who are likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. 

Basically, the United States wants to help people who report certain kinds of crimes.  Even if someone is living in the United States without legal immigration status, the government does NOT want that person to be afraid to call the police if they have been a victim of emotional or physical abuse, or to be afraid to be helpful in the investigation of those kinds of crimes.  

The United States wants to be able to prosecute crime, and does not want to create an environment where crime is tolerated in certain communities because the victims are afraid that if they call the police, and that person does not have status, that he or she could be deported simply for reporting a crime.

Many of my clients often are afraid even to drive a car, let alone call the police to their homes to report a crime.  To do that would involve talking to the police, perhaps going to court, perhaps even allowing the police to take pictures or collect evidence from their homes.

However, if anyone reading this has ever reported a crime to the police—a crime where you were the victim—you may qualify for a U-Visa.

Thank you for reading!