What is a U-Visa?
Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa category through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. The purpose of the act was to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes, while also protecting the victims of such crimes who have suffered from mental and physical abuse and are willing to cooperate with American law enforcement officials in the investigation and prosecution of the criminal activity.
In order to qualify for a U visa, an alien must be the victim of a qualifying crime committed in the United States, and must be helpful to authorities in the investigation of the crime. The alien may also petition for derivative U status for spouses, children, and unmarried siblings less than 21 years of age, as well as spouses and children over the age of 21. Every year, there are 10,000 visas /statuses available. A U visa is given a maximum duration of status of 4 years. There is no filing fee for U non-immigrant status.
In order to qualify for a U nonimmigrant visa, an alien must meet the following qualifications:
- The alien is the victim of a qualifying criminal activity. Such as:
- Abusive Sexual Content
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes
- The alien suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of being the victim of the qualifying criminal activity
- The alien has information about the criminal activity.
- If the alien is under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, then a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess information about the crime on the alien victim’s behalf. A “next friend” is someone who acts on the behalf of another who is not legally able to act independently.
- The alien was, is, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement in their investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- If the alien is under 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian or next friend may assist law enforcement on the alien’s behalf.
- The crime occurred within the U.S. or violated U.S. law.
- The alien is admissible to the U.S. If the alien is not eligible, he/she may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.
Certain family members are also eligible for derivative U nonimmigrant visa status through the principal U visa holder.
- If the U visa principal is under the age of 21, they may petition for derivative status on behalf of their spouses, children, parents, and unmarried siblings under the age of 18.
- If the U visa principal is 21 years of age or older, they may apply on behalf of their spouses and children.
In order to apply for U nonimmigrant status, a qualifying alien needs to submit the following documents:
- Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
- Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (This form is to be filled by law enforcement officials in order to confirm that the alien was or will likely be helpful in criminal investigations or prosecutions)
- A personal statement describing the criminal activity of which you were a victim
- Evidence establishing each eligibility requirement