Both the T and the U visas were created by Congress to encourage the victims of certain serious crimes to cooperate with law enforcement in exchange for legal status in the United States. There are important differences between the two visas, and different types of evidence are necessary to establish eligibility. You should consult with an immigration attorney to determine which is the right visa for you.
The T visa is only available for the victims of human trafficking. An individual must be present in the United States as a result of the trafficking, which may include someone who was in the United States for a vacation or another purpose and then became the victim of trafficking. To be eligible for a T visa, a victim must have been recruited, forced, abducted, or deceived into coming to the United States by the perpetrator of human trafficking. It does not matter whether the applicant was aware at the time that they were being trafficked.
Both U visa and T visa applicants must cooperate with law enforcement. T visa applicants must abide by a reasonable request from law enforcement who are investigating and prosecuting human trafficking. Some T visa applicants don’t have to cooperate at all. An applicant may be exempt from cooperating if they are a minor child or unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma. There is no such exception for U visa applicants. U visa applicants must obtain a “Certificate of Helpfulness” from a law enforcement agency.
U visa applicants must show that they sustained “substantial physical or mental abuse” as a result of the qualifying crime. T visa applicants do not need to provide documentation of physical or mental abuse.
Both U and T visas are subject to a cap. U visas cap at 10,000. T visas cap at 5,000. Both visas allow for the application for derivative visas for family members. In addition, T and U visa holders may apply for green card status.
If you want to explore your options under the T and U visa programs, you should consult with an immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, we have extensive experience in visa applications. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.