By Maria Odom & Heather Fong
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security released updated guidance for law enforcement on resources available to victims of serious crimes, including human trafficking. The U and T Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide provides federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement officials with helpful information to support the investigations and prosecution of crimes involving qualified immigrant victims.
The Department is committed to supporting law enforcement investigations and the prosecution of crimes of human trafficking, domestic violence and other serious harm, as well as civil and criminal investigations into labor exploitation and abuse.
Lack of legal immigration status in the United States may be among the reasons that some victims choose not to come forward or work with law enforcement. Perpetrators and human traffickers also use victims’ lack of legal status as leverage to exploit and control them. Congress created the U and T nonimmigrant visas to address this with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women's Protection Act) in October 2000. Congress sought not only to create tools to help law enforcement prosecute perpetrators of crimes committed against immigrants, but also to strengthen relations between law enforcement and immigrant communities.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) helps to protect victims of these crimes by providing immigration relief through U and T visas. Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges, and government officials also play an important role in this process.
The updated Guide includes:
- information about U and T visa requirements
- information on the I-918B certification and I-914B declaration processes
- suggested best practices
- answers to important and frequently asked questions from judges, prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, and other officials, and
- contact information for DHS personnel on U and T visa issues.
The U and T Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide was first released in 2012, and the Department will continue to provide updates to our law enforcement partners so that together we can protect victims and put an end to these terrible crimes.
Learn more about the U and T visa programs, as well as other protections for immigrant victims by visiting DHS Immigration Options for Victims of Crimes.