There are three possible options that permit victims of crimes to legally stay in or even come to the U.S.:
- U visa: The U visa is for victims of serious crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. The U visa allows the crime victim to remain in the U.S. if he or she agrees to assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- T visa: The T visa is for victims of human trafficking. A trafficking victim is generally controlled and held captive by the trafficker against his or her will. Victims of trafficking are often subjected to sexual exploitation and/or forced labor. The T visa allows trafficking victims to remain in the U.S. if they assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the human trafficking crime.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Victims of domestic violence who are the child, parent, or current/former spouse of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (“green card” holder) and who have been abused by the citizen or permanent resident may be eligible to apply for a green card. They do not need the help of the abuser to apply for their green card. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is also not notified about the green card application.