The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa which is set aside for victims of crimes (and their immediate family members) 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.

Background

Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes while, at the same time, offer protection to victims of such crimes. The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve victims of crimes.

Eligibility

Requirements

There are six legal requirements for U nonimmigrant status:

  • The applicant must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
  • The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of these criminal activities.
  • The applicant must have information concerning that criminal activity.
  • The applicant must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
  • The criminal activity occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
  • The applicant is admissible to the United States under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Those who are not admissible, may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.

Qualifying criminal activity

Crimes whose victims may qualify for U nonimmigrant status include:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive Sexual Contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False Imprisonment
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Felonious Assault
  • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint
  • Other Related Crimes, including attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of any of these offenses, or similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.

Certification of helpfulness

A petition for U nonimmigrant status must also contain a certification of helpfulness in the form of a U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (Form I-918, Supplement B) from a certifying law enforcement agency. This document demonstrates the petitioner "has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful" in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

The government entities which are considered "certifying agencies" for the purpose of a U visa application include Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges, as well as child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor.

U Visa-Based Adjustment of Status: Obtaining a Green Card/Lawful Permanent Residence

After three years of continuous physical presence in the United States while in U nonimmigrant status, a U visa holder may be eligible to adjust status and become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) if certain requirements are met.[1]

An applicant for U visa-based adjustment of status must still be in valid U status at the time he or she files the Form I-485,[2] which is the date on which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives the properly completed application.

With the completed and signed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, applicants must submit:

  • Evidence to show the applicant's approval as a U nonimmigrant;
  • A complete Form G-325A;[3]
  • A complete Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, signed and filled out by a designated civil surgeon;[4]
  • The applicant's birth certificate and a complete certified English translation of the birth certificate if it is not in English;[5]
  • Copies of all pages of all passports (and/or other travel documents) the applicant has had that have been valid at any time while he or she has been in U status, or an explanation regarding why the passport(s) are unavailable or lacking;[6]
  • A self-affidavit by the applicant himself or herself attesting to three years of continuous physical presence in the United States since being admitted as a U nonimmigrant and listing the dates of any departures from and arrivals to the United States while in U status;[7]
  • Evidence to show at least three years of continuous physical presence since being admitted as a U nonimmigrant;[8]
  • Evidence that the applicant has not unreasonably refused to provide assistance in a criminal investigation or prosecution;[9]
  • Evidence to show that discretionary adjustment of status is merited based on humanitarian grounds/family unity/public interest;[10] and
  • Evidence of relationship to the U-1 principal (if applying to adjust status as the derivative family member of a U-1).