Much too often, we hear about an undocumented victim who suffered from domestic or other abuse but never reported it to the authorities –  until it was too late and something far worse happened. And all because they were afraid that the authorities would deport them as soon as they told their story.

But if you’re an undocumented immigrant in Texas and the victim of a violent crime, there is no need for you to suffer alone. Thanks to a much-needed piece of legislation, Congress may have provided you with an opportunity to receive help and protection through the U-Visa.

In October 2000, Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Act and the Battered Women’s Immigrant Protection Act. With the passage of these two laws, the U-Visa was born and has since helped tens of thousands of migrant women and men to receive temporary legal status while U.S. law enforcement officers worked to investigate and prosecute the criminals who harmed them. It’s often a win-win situation for both victims and law enforcement agencies alike.

How the U-Visa Works

More technically known as the ‘U Nonimmigrant Visa’, the U-Visa was designed to protect non-citizen victims of criminal activity, regardless of what their immigration status is. So, even if you’re a completely undocumented immigrant, the U-Visa may still provide you with protection from deportation. In fact, you can even have a current deportation order and still apply for the U-Visa if you meet the eligibility requirements discussed below.

What the U-Visa does is provides you with temporary legal status for a four-year period. During that period, you’re expected to cooperate with law enforcement to help investigate the crimes against you. After three years, you can apply for permanent residence status, even if the crime has already been solved or the case against your perpetrator closed. If you don’t apply for permanent status by the end of the four-year period, then your temporary protection expires and you’ll be expected to return to your native nation. However, if you follow the rules and cooperate with law enforcement, there should be no need for that to happen.

The real benefit of the U-Visa is that it can provide you with several layers of protection.  If your perpetrator is your husband or significant other, for example, you will not be required by law to leave or divorce them in order to qualify for the U-Visa. Also, if the perpetrator is not convicted, your temporary legal status will still be protected. In other words, if the offender is found innocent or the charges are dismissed, your temporary legal status won’t just suddenly end. The entire point of the U-Visa is to protect you from deportation so that you can cooperate with and help the authorities. As long as you’re cooperating, regardless of the outcome of the case, your temporary status will stay intact for the full four years.

Your privacy will also be protected. Your application for a U-Visa won’t be public record so the offender won’t have any way of finding out that you have protected status. Additionally, if you have unmarried children under the age of 21 or a spouse who is not the offender, you can apply for U-Visa’s for them, as well, so that there’s no fear of your family being separated.

Finally, during the four-year period, you will receive work authorization so that your ability to find legal employment is also protected.

U-Visa Eligibility

Eligibility for the U-Visa is very specific and you have to meet all of the requirements.

  • You have to be the victim of one of the qualifying criminal activities (discussed below).
  • As a result of the crime, you had to have suffered from physical or mental abuse and there must be documented proof of this.
  • One of the most important requirements is that you cooperate with law enforcement to help bring your offender to justice. This means that you must have some helpful information about the criminal activity that will be useful to the authorities. (Please understand that there are many factors to consider when determining whether or not your information is helpful.)
  • Finally, the criminal activity had to have occurred within U.S. territory or violated U.S. law.

Eligibility is dependent on the type of crime that occurred. Congress included a very specific list of the crimes which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Domestic violence
  • Blackmail
  • Incest
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Torture
  • False imprisonment
  • Stalking
  • Human trafficking, and
  • Murder

It’s important to note here that indirect victims can also qualify for U-Visa status. That means that if you were not the direct victim of a crime, such as murder, but you’re immediately related to the victim and it’s affected you mentally, then you may still qualify for a U-Visa. Indirect victims may also receive protection if their significant other, child, parent or guardian, or immediate family member was rendered permanently incompetent as a result of the violent crime against them. This can be incredibly beneficial to family members who were dependent on the victims and now have to rethink their survival and way of life.

How to Apply

As with all immigration applications, the process is tedious but possible to get through. Your application packet will include five key elements and documents:

  • A complete Form I-918, Application for U Nonimmigrant Status.
  • Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. This is basically a signed and notarized affidavit describing and confirming that you have information about the crime and that you have been, will be, or could possibly be helpful in the criminal investigation. This must be signed by a qualifying member of law enforcement.
  • A personal statement describing the circumstances of the crime against you.
  • Any additional evidence you may have to help prove that you were a victim of one of the qualifying crimes.
  • If you’re inadmissible, you’ll also need to submit the I-192 waiver.

Getting Help

Very few immigration matters are quick and easy. It’s highly recommended that you contact our office for help and guidance if you’re an immigrant who’s the victim of a violent crime. Not only is your status in the U.S. at stake but so is your well-being and safety. The team of attorneys at Dallas Immigration Lawyers can advise you on your rights, prepare the application packet for you, and represent you during the application and review process. Inquire about our services for more information.



For those of you affected by DACA, times are tense and uncertain. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the current state of this important program and we get a lot of questions about what’s really happening to it.

Here on the Dallas Immigration Lawyers Blog, we’re going to break it down for you; the good, the bad, the ugly, the true, and what it all means for you.


First, let’s start with a little rundown of what DACA really is. You may already know some of this from first-hand experience with the program but some of the details and history are fuzzy, even to those who have used it.

The Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program (DACA) was created in 2012 when then- President Obama signed an executive order. An executive order simply means that the President created the law (rather than Congress) and literally ordered it to happen.

The program itself was specifically designed to protect children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents. Migrants who met the minimum qualifications could request temporary protection from their pending deportation. In other words, their deportation would be deferred, or delayed, for two years. Once the first deferment term expired, they could reapply for one more.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of controversy surrounding this executive order. A lot of people have argued that it was an illegal use of presidential power. Basically, there are claims that it wasn’t the president’s place to create a law affecting immigration because Congress is supposed to do that.  Nothing ever came of those accusations but they’re important to understanding what’s happening to DACA today (which we’ll discuss in just a moment). Nonetheless, the DACA program was successfully initiated in June of 2012, thrived under the Obama administration and, to date, has protected roughly 700,000 immigrant children from deportation. Arguably, it prevented tens of thousands of families, just like yours, from being ripped apart or forced into very difficult decisions.


Adding to the misunderstandings surrounding DACA is the fact that it’s often confused with the DREAM Act.

DACA was designed to be a temporary solution for the many child immigrants who have created a life here in America. The DREAM Act, on the other hand, would be a more permanent solution and would help a broader range of migrants. The problem is that Congress can’t seem to get it passed.

The DREAM Act, legally known as The Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors Act, has been debated in Congress since 2001. It’s been discussed, proposed, amended, voted on, and reintroduced multiple times since then. In order to pass, it has to get 60% of the Senate votes – but every version of the Act has failed to get the required number of votes needed. You may have even followed this whole process more than once in the past.

What DREAM would do is provide certain immigrants with Conditional Permanent Resident Status. In order words, you could receive permanent approval to stay in the country legally IF you met certain qualifications, such as completing high school and either serving in the military or attending at least some form of college of trade school. The point is that instead of granting a way to temporarily avoid deportation, like DACA does, the DREAM Act would provide a clear path to a better and more permanent life in the United States.


Here comes the tricky part.

In September of 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the DACA program was going to be phased out. Contrary to popular belief, the program didn’t just suddenly end.  During his announcement, President Trump gave Congress until March 5, 2018, to pass the DREAM Act, which meant that the DACA program would end on March 6, 2018. Basically, September was just a 6-month warning.

That meant that as of September 2017 no more new DACA applications would be taken. BUT those currently residing in the country under the DACA program would have their deferments honored until their scheduled 2-year deadline. So, that meant that if your last DACA approval was good through May of 2018, for example, then you would be safe until then but you wouldn’t have the option to renew with the program after that.

Don’t lose hope, though. We’re not done yet.

Last month, a federal judge in California issued what’s called an injunction. That means that they overruled Trump’s decision to wind-down DACA and made it possible for current DACA participants to reapply at the end of their 2-year period – even if it’s after March 6th. The government still isn’t accepting any new applications but those who already have the protection will have the chance to try and renew.

Now, the courts have to decide if the President has the power to create or end the DACA program and determine what should happen next. Meanwhile, Congress is supposed to continue to try and pass a more permanent law, like the DREAM Act.

So, even though Trump’s March 5th deadline is upon us, and Congress is nowhere close to coming to an agreement, DACA will continue to hang on; at least in part. If you’re currently protected under the program, you will have a chance to renew. The good news is that the court battle over DACA could go on for months, or even years. This gives Congress more time to try and pass the DREAM Act and gives us all a reason to hope that a solution will be met.


We told you from the beginning that we would be honest because we believe in the beauty and power of knowledge and truth. DACA is a complex and controversial program and its future is definitely uncertain.

If you or a loved one is currently protected under the DACA program, intended to apply but never got the chance, or are unsure of what your options are, it’s imperative that you seek legal guidance.

Our firm has over 20 years of experience helping immigrants throughout the state of Texas and we’ve made it our mission to stay up-to-date on all of the DACA developments as they unfold. We can help you to understand your rights and options and find solutions that fit your families’ hopes, goals, and dreams.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, you absolutely need professional help in order to protect you and your family. Give our law firm a call today.