The U visa, also known as U nonimmigrant status, allows victims of crimes to stay in the U.S. and apply for permanent resident status (green card). It protects foreign citizens from U visa qualifying crimes like trafficking or forced labor. This humanitarian visa may lead to a permanent residency or a “green card” in the future.
The U visa, also known as U nonimmigrant status, allows victims of crimes to stay in the U.S. and apply for permanent resident status (green card). It protects foreign citizens from U visa qualifying crimes like trafficking or forced labor. This humanitarian visa may lead to a permanent residency or a “green card” in the future. Victims of crimes may apply for a U visa by completing Form I-918 and submitting other U visa requirements.
Congress created the U visa and the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection in October 2000. These policies were established to help law enforcement authorities protect and serve victims of crime.
What Are the Different Types of U Visa?
There are different types of U visas depending on which category you belong to:
- U1: Victims of Crimes
- U2: Spouses of U1 visa holders
- U3: Children of U1 visa holders
- U4: Parents of U1 (only applicable if the U1 visa holder is younger than 21 years old and unmarried)
- U5: Siblings of U1 (only applicable if the brothers or sisters are younger than 21 years old and unmarried)
Am I Eligible to Apply for a U Visa?
You may be eligible to apply for a U visa if you are a foreign national who meets the following criteria:
- You are a victim of one or more U visa qualifying crimes.
- You must prove you have suffered physical or mental abuse because of the crime.
- The crime took place in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws.
- You have substantial information on the criminal activity.
- You must cooperate with law enforcement authorities during the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
What Are U Visa Qualifying Crimes?
Here is a list of the U visa qualifying crimes:
- Domestic violence: Physical abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse
- Obstruction of Justice: Perjury, witness tampering, withholding evidence
- Violent crimes: Murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, stalking
- Sexual crimes: Assault, abuse, prostitution, trafficking, exploitation
- Enslavement crimes: Kidnapping, abduction, hostage, human trafficking, false imprisonment, debt servitude
- Foreign labor fraud
How Can I Apply for a U Visa?
If you are currently in the U.S., follow these steps to meet the U visa requirements:
- Step 1: Fill out and submit Form I-918, also known as the Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status.
- Step 2: Complete Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. Have the form signed by an authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency. The officer must confirm that you were, are, or will be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity in the past, present, or future.
- Step 3: If you are inadmissible to the U.S., fill out and submit Form I-192, also called the Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant, to request a waiver of inadmissibility.
- Step 4: Write a personal statement that describes the qualifying crime you were a victim of.
- Step 5: Present supporting evidence to prove that you meet the eligibility requirements.
If you are currently staying outside the U.S., follow these steps to apply for a U visa:
- Step 1: Submit all the U visa application forms to the Vermont Service Center.
- Step 2: Complete the instructions from the Vermont Service Center. Get your fingerprints taken at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Step 3: If you gain approval for your application, undergo the consular process to enter the U.S. You must attend an interview with a consular officer at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
When Should I Apply for a U Visa?
You should apply for a U visa as soon as possible since prompt filing will increase your chances of approval. You must present your information while it is still current and relevant to the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity you were a victim of. If you don’t file for a U visa right away, your testimony may become outdated or irrelevant.
Can My Family Members Apply for a U Visa?
Your family members might be eligible to apply for a U visa if your application is approved. They must meet the following criteria:
- Your family members must display good moral character.
- They must be admissible to the U.S.
- They should file for a waiver if they have previous violations.
These are the family members who may file for a U visa:
- Children who are younger than 21 years old and unmarried
- Parents (only applicable if you are younger than 21 years of age)
- Siblings (only applicable if your brother or sisters are younger than 18 years old and if you are younger than 21 years old)
Why Am I on a Waiting List?
You could be placed on a waiting list because U visas have a cap of 10,000 each year. However, the cap does not apply to your family members to whom you will extend your status. Nevertheless, you can apply for work authorization in the U.S. while on the list.
How Long Will My U Visa Last?
Your U visa may remain valid for up to four years. During this period, you can live and work in the U.S. You are eligible to apply for permanent residency once you have resided in the U.S. for at least three years. Make sure to apply for a green card before your U visa expires.
Can I Extend My U Visa?
You may request an extension of your U visa under the following circumstances:
- Your permanent resident application is pending.
- You encountered consular processing delays.
- You received a law enforcement request.
- You are involved in other exceptional situations.
The U visa will grant you protection if you are a victim of qualifying crimes, and this protection can be extended to some members of your family. Your application for a U visa involves many complex requirements. Get in touch with us to get expert legal guidance as you apply for a U visa. We have nearly four decades of experience in immigration law and are available to help you succeed.