Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) – U & T Visas

On October 28, 2000, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 was signed into law. This law addresses issues of worker exploitation resulting from trafficking in persons. This law is the result of the federal government’s efforts through the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force, an interagency group that brings the FBI, INS, Department of Labor and other agencies together to remedy a problem with both domestic and global dimensions, primarily involving women and children as victims.

The Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, which enforces slavery and peonage statutes that were initially enacted over 100 years ago, was involved in drafting this legislation. The law expands the definition of forced labor to reach more forms of coercion occurring in contemporary times, thus enabling the Section to come to the aid of more victims and to bring more cases than allowed under prior laws.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does the Act Affect Immigration?

In addition to creating new laws that criminalize trafficking with respect to slavery, involuntary servitude, peonage or forced labor, it also gives prosecutors and agents new tools to get legal immigration status for victims of trafficking during investigation and prosecution.

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) created new U and T visas and modified and enhanced existing provisions for non-citizens suffering abuse, commonly referred to as VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioning and VAWA three-year cancellation of removal.

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), enacted in 2000, creates a U visa classification to provide a visa to undocumented individuals who were victims of serious or violent crimes, thereby allowing these individuals to report the crime and to cooperate with government officials prosecute the crime. Significantly, it also provides for employment authorization for beneficiaries of U visas.

What is U Visa Interim Relief?

Since VTVPA’s enactment, USCIS has not issued regulations for persons to apply for the U visa. Without regulations, U visas cannot be issued. In the meantime, however, USCIS has issued U visa interim relief. Several memorandums have been issued for guidance in U visa interim relief.

Who is Eligible for Interim Relief?

To be eligible for interim relief, an individual must show that the following:

  • The immigrant has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of certain criminal activity
  • The immigrant possesses information concerning that criminal activity
  • The immigrant has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution the criminal activity
  • The criminal activity described violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States.

Moreover, an individual must be a victim of certain crimes. The Immigration and Nationality Act lists the following crimes: rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, 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 attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above-mentioned crimes, or any similar activity in violation of federal, state or local criminal law.

There is a limit of 10,000 U visas principal beneficiaries. Dependents of U visa beneficiaries include spouse, children, parents, siblings under the age of 18 at the time of the application, if the applicant is under the age of twenty-one. If an applicant is over the age of twenty-one, dependents include spouses and children. Dependents are not included in the numerical limit.


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