Crimes of Moral Turpitude


§ 3.27 C. "U" Visa - Temporary and Permanent Status for Crime Victims/Witnesses

Skip to § 3.

For more text, click "Next Page>"

The “U” visa, a form of relief for crime victims who serve as witnesses in investigation and prosecution of the crime, was added to the INA as a part of the 2000 Violence Against Women Act, effective October 28, 2000,[342] and amended in 2005.[343]  Another visa is available to persons willing to give information on serious criminal activity,[344] the so-called informant or “S” visa.  See § 24.15, supra.[345]  That visa is very different.  The “U” visa requires that the person have been a victim of a crime, while the “S” visa is geared to an informant who may even have been a participant.  Only 100 “S” visas are available each year, while 10,000 “U” visas per year are available.  For more information, see N Tooby & J. Rollin, Criminal Defense of Immigrants § 24.17 (4th Ed. 2007).  The National Immigration Law Project of the National Lawyers Guild is also serving as a clearinghouse for information concerning this visa.  Advocates should consult the website for updated information before submitting applications by going to


[342] See INA § 101(a)(15)(U), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(U).

[343] Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, P.L. No. 109-162, 119 Stat. 2960 (Jan. 5, 2006).

[344] INA § 101(a)(15)(S), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(S).

[345] INA § 101(a)(15)(S), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(S).



Fifth Circuit

Orosco-Ordonez v. Napolitano, 598 F.3d 222 (5th Cir. Mar. 2, 2010) (the decision of a law enforcement agency to request a U-visa is discretionary; noncitizen may not file habeas petition to compel issuance).

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
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