U Visas and T VisasWe represent immigrants with visas for victims of crime and severe forms of human trafficking.
We regularly represent immigrants who have been victimized in the United States. The U visa allows an immigrant who has cooperated with law enforcement and can show hardship to stay in the United States, and eventually to obtain permanent residence. This process requires several critical steps, and because of a visa backlog in this category may take a number of years.
We begin by meeting with the immigrant and reviewing the police records and court records related to the crime. These can help us to identify the severity of the crime and which law enforcement agencies were involved. We will also discuss hardship factors, and any possible disqualifying factors, before beginning the process of petition for a U Visa.
Law Enforcement Certification
The most important step is obtaining a written certification from the law enforcement agency involved in the case. The certification, Form I-918 Supplement B, confirms that the immigrant was in fact the victim of a crime and cooperated with law enforcement. This is required before we can apply for a U Visa.
Responding to Requests for Evidence
Although most of our U Visa clients have us complete the entire process, we also help immigrants who have filed on their own but have now received a lengthy request for evidence (RFE). The request for evidence is sometimes 5 or more pages of documents the USCIS wants. Also, the USCIS rarely asks a second time, so this is the only opportunity to provide the documents USCIS wants. If an immigrant receives this type of request and is concerned about responding, we can help with preparing the RFE response and sending it to the USCIS.
Because of the extensive U Visa backlog, many are concerned that their application has gotten lost or is not being processed timely. Most cases are just delayed because of the backlog. But if an application has been pending longer than the posted processing times and hasn’t received a request for evidence or other communication, we have helped immigrants to inquire with the USCIS about the application, to make sure it is still pending and being processed timely.
T Visas for Victims of Trafficking
Similar to the U Visa, the T visa is designed to help immigrants who have been the victims of severe forms of trafficking, including labor trafficking and trafficking for sex. A common scenario involves immigrants who were brought to the United States with a valid visa (such as an H-2B) but were then mistreated by their employer. This visa may require cooperation with the Department of Labor. We also have to demonstrate hardship if the immigrant is deported. Unlike the U Visa, there is currently no backlog in this category, so these visas don’t take as long.
Every T visa case at our office begins with a complete evaluation. Often, proving that the situation involved trafficking can be difficult, because many employers work hard to cover up their tracks. We will discuss who all was aware of the trafficking, where we can find proof of what happened to you, and review your eligibility for the visa before beginning the application processing. We will also evaluate whether you have relatives who need to be included in the visa request.
Preparing and filing the visa application
The T visa application is filed with the Vermont Service Center. We work with our clients to prepare the required forms. We also help prepare the required documents, including declarations from people aware of what happened, criminal documents, and visa documents to help prove the circumstances of the trafficking. Once it is completed, the packet is mailed to USCIS.
The Circuit Court brief is even more important than the BIA brief, and it is a true art to do it well. The brief requires superb organization, accurate review and citation of the administrative record, creative argumentation, and in-depth, extensive citations to the federal cases and statute. All circuits have different rules about the format, order, and layout of Circuit Court briefs. Once they’re filed electronically, the briefs have to be physically printed and bound in multiple copies and then shipped to the court. We handle the entire process, from brainstorming and research, to writing, formatting, finalizing the brief, and then printing, binding, and shipping it.
T Visa recipients may be eligible for certain assistance and benefits to help them escape the trafficking and get on their feet. We work with clients once their T Visa has been approved to contact these agencies. We also help with visas for their family members to come to the United States once the T visa is approved.