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State Letter 14-01

Eligibility of U Status Recipients for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

Published: February 10, 2014
Categories:
Unaccompanied Refugee Minors
Types:
State Letter

TO:   STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS

         NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
         OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

FROM:   Eskinder Negash
               Director
               Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT:  Eligibility of U Status Recipients for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Pub. L. 113-4, § 1263) makes a child who has been granted U status by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) eligible for the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program, provided that the child meets all other eligibility requirements.

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (www.uscis.gov) is a good resource for information on topics such as the types of qualifying crimes that U status holders may have experienced, the length of time that may be spent in U nonimmigrant status, special requirements for applying for legal permanent residency and details on filing for derivative immigration benefits for family members. For example, see “Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status,” and “Questions & Answers: Victims of Criminal Activity, U Nonimmigrant Status” which also contain links to other helpful USCIS forms and web pages.

ORR encourages State Refugee Coordinators to prepare their URM service provider network to place and serve unaccompanied U status recipients, as with all other populations that are eligible for the URM program.  ORR conducts an eligibility determination prior to approving entry into the URM program, including a review of the child’s unaccompanied status. Specific procedures for U status recipients are under development. In the interim, service providers and other interested parties with knowledge of child U status recipients who are unaccompanied and in need of placement may contact urmprogram@acf.hhs.gov for a case by case determination of eligibility for the URM program.  Questions related to the content of this State Letter should be directed to Tricia Swartz at 202-401-5145 or Tricia.Swartz@acf.hhs.gov.