Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 24.17 (C)

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(C)  Inadmissibility and Adjustment of Status.  All grounds of inadmissibility are waivable except the terrorist grounds.[234]  In its proposed regulation for the “T” trafficking visa, the agency proposed that a waiver for criminal grounds of inadmissibility not caused by the trafficking would be decided on an “exceptional case” standard, although this standard does not appear in the statute.[235]  Advocates recommend contesting this standard as ultra vires to the statute.


Individuals granted “U” visas may apply for permanent residence after three years.  Permanent residence will be granted for humanitarian, family unity or public interest purposes.  The applicant must have maintained continuous presence in the U.S. during that time, and must not have unreasonably refused to participate in an investigation or prosecution.[236]  At that time the spouse and children of the crime victim (and parents of a child victim) may be granted visas if the Attorney General considers it necessary to avoid extreme hardship, even if these parties did not obtain a nonimmigrant “U” visa.  Only 10,000 non-immigrant “U” visas may be granted each year.  This limitation applies to principal applicants, and not to spouses, children or parents of the applicant.[237]  There does not appear to be an explicit limit to the number of “U” visa holders who can adjust to permanent residence each year.

[234] INA § 212(d)(13), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(13) provides: “The Attorney General shall determine whether a ground of inadmissibility exists with respect to a nonimmigrant described in § 101(a)(15)(U). The Attorney General, in the Attorney General’s discretion, may waive the application of subsection (a) (other than paragraph (3)(E)) in the case of a nonimmigrant described in § 101(a)(15)(U), if the Attorney General considers it to be in the public or national interest to do so.”

[235] INA § 212(d)(3), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(3).

[236] INA § 245(l)(1) [El one], 8 U.S.C. § 1255(l)(1).

[237] INA § 214(o)(2), 8 U.S.C. § 1184(o)(2).



Seventh Circuit

Torres-Tristan v. Holder, 56 F.3d 653 (7th Cir. Sept. 1, 2011) (court lacks jurisdiction to review denial of U-visa or I-192 waiver as decisions made outside removal proceedings).

Ninth Circuit

Lee v. Holder, 599 F.3d 973 (9th Cir. Mar. 25, 2010) (Immigration Judge lacks jurisdiction to consider application for U-Visa interim relief).


On Mar. 7, 2013, the President signed into law the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The reauthorization contains some expanded protections for immigrants, but did not increase the number of available U visas. The law includes new provisions on stalking, children of self-petitioners, children of U visa applicants, immigrants engaged to citizens, and funding for law enforcement to fight trafficking. The text of the reauthorization passed by Congress at
New Interim Rule (Sept. 17, 2007):

Analysis by ASISTA and Legal Momentums Immigrant Women Program:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced in late August 2012 that it had approved 10,000 U visas, the annual statutory maximum. The U visa is for victims of certain crimes who are helpful with law enforcement investigations or prosecutions. An approved visa allows the person to remain in the U.S., get a work permit, and eventually apply for legal residency. 10,000 U visas were issued throughout this fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2012. The Vermont Service Center reports that it is currently "preprocessing" U applications, and plans to send out approvals and work authorization to those pre-approved, after the first of October. - Guidance from ASISTA on how to proceed now that USCIS has reached the 10,000 cap on principal U visas for this fiscal year, which also addresses derivatives and requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), at - A practice advisory from ASISTA on the intersection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and U visa derivatives at - A practice advisory from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center on the U nonimmigrant status eligibility requirements for children and youth at Podcast: - Gail Pendleton of ASISTA discusses how to work with Local Enforcement Agencies on U Visa Certifications at Other Resources: ASISTA ASISTA provides a resource page on U Visas that includes tips for filing, regulations, checklists for clients, case law, guidance for different procedural postures, and more at Catholic Legal Immigration Network The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) offers a Spanish U visa fact sheet for clients at Legal Momentum Legal Momentum has a resource page on U visa training materials and tools at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a webpage with information on U visas, including basic requirements, questions and answers, and links to other resources at