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Copyright (c) 2010 Arkansas Law Review, Inc.
Arkansas Law Review

Legislative Note: The U-visa: Immigration Law's Best Kept Secret*

* The author would like to thank Professors Sharon Foster and Elizabeth Young for their helpfulness and insight in writing this note.



63 Ark. L. Rev. 177


Anna Hanson


The U-visa is a new source of relief for undocumented immigrants who are victims of crime. It serves as a gap-filler to the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) and grants legal status under a range of previously not provided for circumstances. Immigration law is increasingly relevant in states such as Arkansas that have seen an influx in immigrant communities in the past decade. 1 Immigration has increasingly come under a spotlight, especially since 9/11.

With heightened attention directed toward the undocumented community, Congress became aware of and addressed the problem of undocumented victims of crime who were reluctant to report to the police for fear of deportation, among other reasons. It created the U-visa as a form of relief available to victims of a host of violent, sexual, and exploitive criminal activity regardless of the legal status of their perpetrator. A maximum of 10,000 U-visas may be granted per year. 2 The U-visa grants temporary status for up to four years but can be extended if the alien's continued presence is necessary to the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity. 3 After three years of U-visa status, the Secretary of Homeland Security may grant permanent residency if it is justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or is otherwise in the public interest. 4 Individuals granted U-nonimmigrant status are also referred to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to learn about available resources and their options in the United States. 5 U-visa holders are not recipients ...
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