A U visa offers protection from deportation for victims of certain crimes who have suffered abuse. The visa aims to help people escape their abusive relationships. It is for people who are too afraid to report the abuse because they rely on their abuser for their right to remain in the United States. It covers mental and physical abuse.
What crimes qualify for U visas?
U visas cover sex crimes, trafficking crimes and violent crimes. They can also cover obstruction of justice, perjury and other such offenses. You may also be able to apply if you have information on a crime you are willing to share with the police.
U visas are not issued quick enough to protect the people that need them
The problem with U visas is the process is inefficient. The average time to process an application is currently four years.
Reports suggest 160,000 cases are still waiting for assessment. The current U visa quota is 10,000 per year. So, if no one else applies for one, it could still take 16 years to process them all. In the meantime, immigration authorities may elect to deport applicants. Or their abusers may harm them further or even kill them.
Proposed legislation may raise the annual quota of U visas
Legislators have drawn up a series of immigration reforms. They include upping the number of visas available each year to 30,000. They also propose giving applicants the right to work while they wait. As with any legislative proposals, strong opposition is likely from some quarters.
Seek legal advice if your current visa is dependent on someone who is abusing you. You are in a challenging situation due to your immigration status, and your abuser knows that.