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Key Differences Between a U-visa & a T-Visa

Key Differences Between a U-visa & a T-Visa

The U visa and T visa are both forms of humanitarian relief under U.S. immigration law and are both available for people who have been victims of crimes. Their differences lie in their requirements and the terms of the visas.

Basic Requirements

There are four primary differences in the basic requirements of the visas: (1) the qualifying criminal activity, (2) the location of the victim, (3) the required assistance with law enforcement, (4) and the required hardship that must be shown to the victim.

  1. Qualifying Criminal Activity

One of the key differences between the U and the T visas is that the list of U-visa qualifying crimes is broader than for the T-visa.

  • U-Visa: The U-visa is for people how have been the victim of specific crimes. INA 101§(a)(15)(iii) enumerates 29 qualifying crimes, including: “rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, stalking, female genital mutilation, being held hostage, peonage, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, false imprisonment, blackmail, extortion, manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, perjury, or fraud in foreign labor contracting.”
  • T-Visa: The T-visa is for people who have victims of “severe forms” of trafficking. Trafficking includes both sex and labor trafficking.
  1. Location of Victim
  • T-Visa applicants must be physically present in the United States, on account of the trafficking; they can also request T-visa status at a port of entry.
  1. Assistance with Law Enforcement
  • U Visa: U-visa applicants must ‘have been helpful, are being helpful, or are likely to be helpful in the future’ in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. Law enforcement must certify that the applicant has been helpful; applicants can obtain the certification from local law enforcement, a prosecutor, or a judge.
  • T Visa: T-visa applicants must demonstrate that they have complied with reasonable requests for assistance from law enforcement. Applicants are exempt from this requirement if they are under 18 or if they are unable to assist due to physical or mental trauma.
  1. Required Hardship or Harm
  • U Visa: Applicants must demonstrate that they have suffered extreme physical or emotional harm as a result of having been the victim of criminal activity.
  • T Visa: Applicants must show that they will suffer extreme and unusual hardship if their application were denied, and they were forced to depart the United States.

Basic Visa Terms

There are two critical differences in the visa terms: (1) number of visas, and (2) eligibility for public benefits.

  1. Number of Available Visas
  • U-Visa: 10,000 U-visas are available each year; however, there is a lengthy backlog for U-visa applications.
  • T-Visa: 5,000 T-visas are available each year; however, the T-visa cap is never met.
  1. Eligibility for Public Benefits
  • U-Visa: Not eligible for federal public benefits.
  • T-Visa: Upon approval of the T-visa, applicants are eligible for federal refugee benefits, including food stamps, job training, and student aid.

If you have been the victim of a crime and would like information about the U-visa or the T-visa, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, have experience with U-visa, T-visa, and VAWA applications. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!


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