LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Thomas Esparza Jr. | Aug 3, 2011

Thomas Esparza & Jacqueline Watson Immigration Specialists-U visa for victims of domestic violence

This information is not meant to serve as legal advice, and is by no means a substitute for legal assistance. If you have a question about your immigration case, we recommend you to talk to an attorney or a BIA Accredited Representative at a recognized nonprofit agency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Success Stories

U-Visa: Immigration Status for Crime Victims

In October 2000, the U.S. Congress passed a law creating a new temporary status called the U-Visa for certain crime victims. If you are in the U.S. without legal status, and have been the victim of a crime, you may be eligible for a temporary legal status and, eventually, lawful permanent resident status.

  1. Who is eligible for a U-Visa?
  2. Which crimes are reviewed in considering eligibility for a U-Visa?
  3. What are the benefits of a U-Visa?
  4. Can my family benefit from a U-Visa too?
  5. Can I apply for a U-Visa now?
  6. Who can assist me in applying for a U-Visa?

** Who is eligible for a U-Visa?**

Victims of certain crimes listed in the law are eligible for a U-Visa if:

  1. they have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of being a crime victim
  2. they have information about the crime
  3. they are, have been, or will be helpful to legal authorities investigating or prosecuting the crime.

** Which crimes are reviewed in considering eligibility for a U-Visa?**

The law lists 26 separate crimes, including domestic violence, rape, abusive sexual contact, abduction, blackmail and felony assault. A lawyer or legal services agency can help you determine if you were the victim of a crime included in the U-Visa law.

** What are the benefits of a U-Visa?**

Approved U-Visa applicants will receive 3 years of temporary legal status and work authorization. At the end of this period, most people with U-Visa status will be able to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

** Can my family benefit from a U-Visa too?**

The spouse and children of a U-Visa applicant, and the parent, if the U-Visa applicant is under age 16, may qualify for U-Visa status and if they also meet other requirements in the law.

** Can I apply for a U-Visa now?**

The rules about applying for a U-Visa have not been fully put into place yet, and there is no application form or final regulations. At this time, people who think they qualify for a U-Visa can apply for an interim form of temporary status called "deferred action", which also provides for permission to work. Once the procedures for applying for actual U-Visa status are issued, persons with deferred action status will be notified to submit an application.

** Who can assist me in applying for a U-Visa?**

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SEEKING U-VISA STATUS, GET LEGAL COUNSELING FROM A COMPETENT IMMIGRATION LAWYER OR LEGAL SERVICES WORKER BEFORE APPLYING!! DO NOT RELY ON THE ADVICE OF AN UNAUTHORIZED COUNSELOR.

Additional resources provided by the author

Thomas Esparza, Jr. Attorney 
A Professional Corporation 
Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law 

Thomas Esparza, Board Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality law with thirty four years experience in the field. He is the past chairman of the Texas chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the current chairman of the Austin Commission on Immigrant Affairs. 
Jacqueline L. Waston is a Board Certified Specialist In Immigration and Nationality law with 11 years experience. She is a frequent lecturer for the University of Texas, the State Bar of Texas and is an active member of the community. 

“Blessed is the nation whose God is Lord” 
La Madrid Building. 
1811 S. 1st Street, Austin, TX 78704 
512-441-0062 
visit us at: www.tomesparza.com 
write to us at: [email protected][email protected] 
 Telephonic consultations available on request from the web site. See my latest publication, Citizenship, the 100 Questions, 4th Edition at Starlight Press 
www.starlightpress.com 
Bilingual Educational Publishing

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