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There is a little known way that illegal immigrants can gain legal residency in the United States. This is known as the “U” visa.

The “U” visa is granted upon individuals without legal residency in the United States who aid in the investigation of crimes or other activities. It also allows victims of violence that cooperate with law enforcement, ranging from providing intelligence information to authorities up until testifying as a witness in court.

Included in the visa is a work permit valid for four years from date of issuance. With this visa, the victim can apply for a green card to allow permanent work status and residency in the United States. These “U” visas are derivative in nature, meaning they can also be extended to their immediate family members. Another similar visa program is the “T” visa or for those who have fallen victim to human trafficking.

This visa program has been in use in the last three years and about 25,000 individual victims and 19,000 of their relatives have been granted. This is one way to counteract the growing fear illegal immigrants have when reporting a crime, namely abuse, exploitation and victimization. Many think that when they report a crime, they themselves would be investigated on and deported because of their illegal status.