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U Visa/T Visa/VAWA

As a national expert, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) provides technical assistance, trainings and practice manuals on critical immigration options for vulnerable immigrants including immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and other crimes.

U Visa: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes

Immigrant victims of certain crimes who have been helpful in a criminal investigation or prosecution may qualify for a visa that can lead to a green card. The ILRC’s practice manual entitled The U Visa: Obtaining Status for Immigrant Survivors of Crime is a comprehensive explanation of the law and application process that also includes sample materials and practice tips.

VAWA: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes

VAWA allows an abused spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident or an abused parent of a U.S. Citizen to self-petition for lawful status in the United States, receive employment authorization, and access public benefits. VAWA provides domestic violence survivors with the means that are essential to escaping violence and establishing safe, independent lives. ILRC has co-authored The VAWA Manual, a step-by-step guide to assist advocates working on VAWA cases.

T Visa: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Sex or Labor Trafficking

Human trafficking survivors may be eligible for lawful status, employment authorization, and a potential path to permanent residency, but they are a unique population with diverse and resource-intensive needs. The ILRC publishes a guide, Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking, on special considerations when working with human trafficking victims. 


Use of the Term “Victim” vs. “Survivor”

Please note that the ILRC often uses the terms “victim” and “survivor” interchangeably. Because a “victim” is typically defined by harm done to them, many advocates choose to instead use the word “survivor” to refer to clients. “Survivors” are defined by their lives after the harm, allowing them to reclaim control of their lives and their recovery. While our goal as advocates is to help community members survive and thrive despite harms they have suffered, we sometimes use the term “victim” when referring to a particular aspect of the criminal legal system, penal code, or immigration law; when describing someone recently affected by crime; when talking about the actions of a perpetrator; or when discussing the harm inflicted on those who did not survive. When working with impacted community members, we recommend asking people which term they prefer, as some may identify with the term victim, while others may prefer the term survivor.  

Latest Resources

FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
02/12/2024
On January 31, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a final fee rule that will go into effect April 1, 2024. This Community Alert delves into the provisions of the new rule including increased fees, expanded fee exemptions, and changes to fee waiver policy. This downloadable guide also offers some key takeaways and resources to find support for your immigration case.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
02/05/2024
In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its T Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide. The guide, published alongside updated guidance on T visas in the USCIS Policy Manual (USCIS-PM), advises law enforcement agencies on providing T visa certifications, a crucial form of evidence in T visa applications. This practice advisory gives an overview of the resource guide and how practitioners can utilize it to advocate for law enforcement agencies to provide law enforcement certifications to survivors.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
01/18/2024
Law enforcement agencies in California have been responding to requests for U visa certifications for many years to allow immigrant survivors of crime and their family members to apply for U nonimmigrant status. However, until 2016 there was no statewide standard or protocol for certifications. Several bills have passed in the meantime to further streamline the process. Most recently, AB 1261 was signed into law in October 2023 and went into effect on 01/01/2024. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center and the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice wrote this advisory to summarize California state laws on U visa certifications, including the newest provisions.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
01/09/2024
Criminal Convictions can have serious consequences on peoples’ lives – especially non-citizens who wish to stay in the United States. Many immigration benefits have criminal bars, meaning that certain convictions will prevent you from getting a lawful immigration status, like permanent residence (green card). This Community Explainer offers some options for those who have had certain convictions related to domestic violence or human trafficking, with insights about how to define these crimes, some example scenarios, and explanations about the benefits of a legal tool called a “vacatur.”
Public Comments / Sign-on Letters
Resources
Publication Date
01/08/2024
ILRC submitted this comment on the many proposed changes to U Visa Forms I-918, I-918A, and I-918B. ILRC commended the agency for many changes, including shortening Forms I-918 and I-918A and removing many questions about rare grounds of inadmissibility. ILRC also provided suggestions for how the agency could further streamline Forms I-918 and I-918A, and raised concerns about the expansion of Form I-918B.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
10/10/2023
This practice advisory covers what to do when inadmissibility factors are discovered or triggered outside the U petitioning process such as after applying for or receiving U nonimmigrant status, adjusting status through INA § 245(m), adjusting status under a different petition, or traveling outside the country.
Public Comments / Sign-on Letters
Resources
Publication Date
08/30/2023
On August 1, 2023, USCIS published long-awaited Policy Manual guidance on the definition and process for determining statelessness. ILRC commented favorably on most of the guidance and made suggestions for some improvements.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
09/01/2023
This practice advisory covers ways to gather information to determine whether your client might be inadmissible, how to address inadmissibility issues when applying for U nonimmigrant status, and how to file for an inadmissibility waiver for a U nonimmigrant applicant.