At least two individuals staged a robbery in this U-Visa fraud case.


U-Visa fraud cases can get weird. A group of men staged a robbery as part of their plans to apply for U-Visas for Jose Pineda-Hernandez, Oscar Pineda-Martinez, and Miguel Bautista-Manuel, which was initially taken as a legitimate robbery and investigated by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Two men, Travis Lee Nixon, of Greenville, South Carolina, and Miguel Bautista-Manuel, were sentenced to 1 year and 8.5 months in federal prison, respectively, by U.S. District Court Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr., towards the end of July, 2019.

Those that commit such fraudulent acts only make it harder for legitimate victims of criminal activity to receive U-Visas. The conviction of these criminals may help deter others from carrying out similar schemes, and ultimately, lead to more proper U-Visa approvals.

As Shakespeare said,

“The robbed that smiles steals from the thief.”

The legal immigration benefits to available to U-Visa applicants/status-holders and beneficiaries can be extremely helpful and powerful tools. Abuse of the U-Visa category by fraud or other means undermines not just their legitimacy, but their availability.

“‘U-Visas play an important role in helping victims of serious crimes obtain justice,’ ‘Those who commit fraud to obtain them divert already limited law enforcement resources and deprive true victims with a sincere willingness to assist law enforcement of legal immigration benefits.'” – U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon, in the sentencing announcement.

What is a U-Visa?

In general, U-Visas are nonimmigrant visas reserved for certain victims of criminal activity who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse and are willing to help law enforcement prosecute such crimes. A U-Visa applicant applies on Form I-918, which may be found here. To apply for a waiver of admissibility, U-Visa applicants should file Form I-192. You must be a victim of a certain qualifying criminal activity that occurred in the United States or violated U.S. law, be admissible to the United States (or apply for a waiver on Form I-192), demonstrate that you have suffered substantial physical and/or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim, and possess information and be willing to aid law enforcement in prosecuting the criminal activity. There are certain exceptions.

If you or someone you know are a victim of a crime and think you might be eligible for a U-Visa, Christians Law, PLLC is here to help. Tyler Christians is an experienced immigration attorney and can help you apply for a U-Visa.

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Christians Law, PLLC is an immigration and criminal defense law firm with offices located in Falls Church, Virginia, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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