Law Enforcement Related Visas


Self-Petitions and Adjustment of Status

The Immigration and Nationality Act has provisions for self-petitioning individuals who meet the requirements of the law. Self-petitioners include: battered spouses and children; battered parents; spouses, parents and children of servicemen killed in combat; widows and widowers; and certain Cuban spouses.

Self-petition is available also in the employment-based context. Aliens with extraordinary abilities who intend to engage in the occupation in which they have reached the pinnacle of excellence, as well as aliens who will work in occupations that will serve the national interest may self-petition.

S Persons Providing Information on Crimes and Terrorism / Material Witnesses

The S visa is a nonimmigrant visa that applies to foreign nationals who provide critical and reliable information for a successful investigation and prosecution of a criminal or terrorist organization. Currently, the Congress only gives 200 visas per year for persons providing critical and reliable information concerning a criminal group and an additional 50 visas are allocated for individuals who provide critical and reliable information regarding terrorist organizations and who qualified for Department of State’s rewards program. Family members – spouse, parents, and children – of the informants or witnesses are also eligible to enter the U.S. under derivative S visa and they do not count against the numerical limit.

There are two types of S visas:

a. A person may qualify for an S-5 visa if:

  • They possess reliable information regarding a crime or the pending commission of a crime;
  • They are willing to share this information with law enforcement or testify in court; and
  • Their presence is necessary to secure a successful investigation and/or prosecution of the case.

b. A person may qualify for an S-6 visa if:

  • They possess reliable information regarding a terrorist organization or terrorist plot;
  • They are willing to share this information with law enforcement or testify in court; and
  • They are eligible to receive an award from the State Department for providing the information.

T Victims of Severe Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals are lured by traffickers with false promises of employment and better life. There are two categories of trafficking under federal law:

  1. Sex trafficking: recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining a person for the purpose a commercial sex act where the person is forced or deceived, or the person is under 18 years old.
  2. Labor trafficking: recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

The T visa is granted to aliens who are or were victims of human trafficking and who are willing to assist law enforcement to investigate and prosecute human trafficking acts. If the victim is under 18 or experiencing a physical or psychological trauma, then he or she does not have to help with investigation and prosecution of the traffickers. The T-visa is limited to 5,000 visas each year. Once the cap is reached, applicants would be prioritized the following year.

The beneficiary of this visa is also eligible for the same benefits with refugees once certified by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). However, certificates are not required for beneficiaries under 18 years old.

How do I qualify for this visa? In order to be eligible for a T visa, the applicant must:

  • be or have been a victim of severe trafficking.
  • be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry.
  • be willing to cooperate with a reasonable request by law enforcement authorities to assist in the investigation or prosecution of such trafficking or in the investigation of crimes where acts of trafficking are at least one central reason for the crime; and
  • will suffer extreme and unusual hardship if removed from the United States.

How long can I stay in the US on this visa? A T visa holder can stay in the United States for three years. After the third year, the T visa holder may be eligible for permanent residency.

Am I allowed to work? Beneficiary of this visa is allowed to work as Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is also granted at the same time with T visa.

U Victims of Certain Crimes

U visa is a temporary legal status granted to victims of certain crimes. If grated, the U visa holder is granted employment authorization in the United States for up to four years. There is a limit of 10,000 visas each year. U visa holders can petition family members including spouses, children, unmarried siblings under 18, parents, stepparents and adoptive parents.

In order to qualify for this type of visa, the alien must prove that he or she:

  • has been the victim of certain crimes;
  • has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of one of the qualifying crimes;
  • possesses useful information concerning the crime which occurred;
  • has helped or is likely to cooperate in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and
    the crime committed violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States.

After three years the U visa holder can apply for permanent residence in the United States.

What types of crimes are contemplated in the U visa context? Victims of the following types of criminal activities may be eligible for a U visa:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive Sexual Content
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False Imprisonment
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Felonious Assault
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trade
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint

Victims of Battery and Mental Cruelty (VAWA)

VAWA stands for Violence against Women Act. This act, allows a battered spouse, child or parent of US citizens and permanent residents to file an immigrant petition without the abuser’s knowledge or consent. The VAWA applicant can self-petition. The application must be well-documented to substantiate the abuse.

Other Related Crimes

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