The two new visas US Congress created in 2000 are for certain victims of crimes. Neither the status of the victim nor the abuser is relevant for either visa. Thus, the U visa helps domestic violence survivors whose abusers are undocumented or are not their spouses, parents or children.

Accessing the criminal justice system in the United States is essential to both visas.

The U Visa

Victims of domestic violence, trafficking victims, nannies subjected to abuse from their employers, and victims of rape in the workplace are eligible for U visas.

To qualify for a U visa, victims must show that they have suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse” in the United States. In addition, judges and detectives who have authority to investigate crimes should provide certificates to aliens who are qualifying victims of crimes and have been, are being, or are likely to be helpful in further investigation or prosecution of crime.

The T Visa

The T visas for victims of trafficking for sex or labor require the involvement of federal law enforcement. If federal law enforcement is not helpful, the criminal or family court system may provide “secondary” evidence. Such evidence may include findings or documents that show the alien is a victim of such trafficking and that either the requests by federal law enforcement were not reasonable, or that the victim did, in fact, comply with such requests.

In addition, T visa applicant must show extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if he or she is removed to his/her home country.

Gender-Based Persecution

A victim of domestic violence seeking asylum in the United States must show that she fears persecution in her home country because she has been or is likely to be subjected to severe domestic violence if she is forced to return there. In most cases, the asylum claim is based on past abuse and extreme cruelty and fleeing to the U.S. was the victim’s final desperate attempt to save her life and/or lives of her children. As gender-based asylum claims require establishing membership in a qualifying particular social group, it requires the complex analysis and expertise of an experienced immigration attorney to win this type of asylum case.


The information contained herein does not establish an attorney-client relationship and does not constitute legal advice.  Prior results depend on a number of factors unique to each matter and do not guarantee a similar outcome.