CHAPTER 26: THE U VISA (VICTIMS OF CRIMES)
Are you a foreign national who has been a victim of a serious crime that occurred in the United States?
Have you assisted, or are willing to assist, law enforcement agencies in investigating the crime?
If you answered “Yes” to both questions above, you might be eligible for a U visa. The U visa was created for foreign nationals who are the victims of serious crimes that have occurred in the U.S.. The victims of these crimes must have cooperated with or be willing to cooperate with various U.S. law enforcement agencies in the investigation and persecution of the perpetrator. The U visas allow foreign national victims to remain in the U.S. and gain employment authorization during their stay. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants 10,000 U visas per year.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO SHOW TO QUALIFY FOR A U VISA?
To be eligible for a U visa, the foreign national victim must meet the following requirements:
- The foreign national should have been a victim of one of these crimes:
Rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, hostage situations, peonage, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, blackmail, extortion, manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, perjury or attempted perjury, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes.
- The victim should have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of one of the above crimes;
- The victim should have useful information concerning the crime that occurred;
- The victim has helped, or should be ready to help, in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and,
- The crime committed against the victim should have violated the laws of the United States or should have occurred in the United States.
WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED BEFORE FILING A U VISA APPLICATION?
Before submitting a U visa application, a foreign national victim must obtain a certification from federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, or a prosecutor, judge or other authority, which is responsible for the investigation or prosecution of the crime. A U visa application will not be accepted without this certification.
HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN THE U.S. ON A U VISA?
U visa holders can remain in the U.S. for four years.
CAN I APPLY FOR ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE FOR A U VISA?
Yes. After three years as an immigrant with U visa status, a U visa holder can apply for adjustment of status.
CAN I WORK IN THE U.S. ON A U VISA?
Yes. If a U visa applicant’s petition is approved, he or she is automatically granted employment eligibility.
CAN MY FAMILY MEMBERS ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. ON A U VISA?
Yes. A U visa applicant can file a petition on behalf of their families. If the U visa applicant is less than twenty-one (21) years old, the U visa applicant can file for their spouse, children, unmarried siblings under 18, and their parents. If the U visa applicant is twenty-one (21) years or older, the applicant can file for their spouse and their children.
If you are a foreign national and have been a victim of a serious crime that occurred in the United States, you may be eligible for a U visa. Past and/or future cooperation with United States 117
law enforcement authorities is required for a U visa and must be documented in a certification before the foreign national victim submits his or her application for the U Visa.