These FAQs are intended to provide general information about the services that SCVAN can provide regarding the criminal justice process and other legal issues that can affect victims. This information is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions about a specific legal matter, contact an attorney.

What immigration benefits are available for noncitizen crime victims?

There are various immigration benefits available for non citizen crime victims, including T visas for victims of human trafficking, VAWA for victims of domestic violence, SIJ for child victims under 21 years of age, U visas for victims of qualifying crimes, and Asylum for victim of persecution.


What is a T visa?

T nonimmigrant status is a temporary immigration benefit that enables certain victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons) to remain in the United States for an initial period of up to 4 years if they have complied with any reasonable request for assistance from law enforcement in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of human trafficking or qualify for an exemption or exception. T nonimmigrant status is also available to certain qualifying family members of trafficking victims. T nonimmigrants are eligible for employment authorization and certain federal and state benefits and services. T nonimmigrants who qualify may also be able to adjust their status and become lawful permanent residents (obtain a Green Card). Learn more here


What is a U visa?

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.

The limit on the number of U visas that may be granted to principal petitioners each year is 10,000. However, there is no cap for family members deriving status from the principal applicant, such as spouses, children, or other eligible family members.

If the cap is reached before all U nonimmigrant petitions have been adjudicated, USCIS will create a waiting list for any eligible principal or derivative petitioners that are awaiting a final decision and a U visa. Petitioners placed on the waiting list will be granted deferred action or parole and are eligible to apply for work authorization while waiting for additional U visas to become available.

Once additional visas become available, petitioners on the waiting list and those who have received a bona fide determination will receive their visa in the order in which their petition was received. Petitioners do not have to take any additional steps to request the U visa. USCIS will notify the petitioner of the approval and the accompanying U visa. Learn more here. 

What is a U Certification?

A U certification (Also known as Form I-918 Supplement B) is a required supplemental document when applying for a U visa. Certifying officials, such as the heads of police departments, sheriff’s offices, solicitor’s offices, and judges may sign this form verifying that the victim was, is, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity. Signing a U certification does not guarantee approval of a U visa. It simply allows the victim to apply for one. Due to the processing delays with U visas, SCVAN Legal is only assisting victims in obtaining U certifications at this time. 


What is a VAWA petition?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) if you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by: A U.S. citizen spouse or former spouse; A U.S. citizen parent; A U.S. citizen son or daughter; A lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or former spouse; or An LPR parent.

You may self-petition under VAWA by filing a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) without your abusive family member’s knowledge or consent. A person who files a VAWA self-petition is generally known as a VAWA self-petitioner. If your self-petition is approved and you meet other eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to apply to become a lawful permanent resident. Learn more here.