The U visa is for crime victims and their immediate family members who have suffered serious mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of that crime. Legislation authorizing the U visa was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases involving such areas as domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking and to protect victims. After three years of continuous physical presence in the United States while in U Visa status, a holder may apply to adjust status and become a Lawful Permanent Resident. U visas are limited to 10,000 per year. However, there is no limit for family members such as spouses, children, or other eligible members.
There are six requirements to apply for a U visa:
- The applicant must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
- The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse.
- The applicant must be willing to provide information concerning the crime.
- The applicant must assist in the investigation.
- The criminal activity occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
- The applicant is admissible to the United States under current law.
A number of crimes qualify for the U Visa. A few such crimes are:
- Domestic violence
- Female genital mutilation
- Sexual Assault
- Human trafficking
A U visa is valid for four years. Extensions may be available if:
- Requested by law enforcement,
- Needed based on exceptional circumstances,
- Needed due to delays in consular processing, or
- Automatically extended upon the filing of an application for adjustment of status.
The status can be later adjusted. There are a number of items that must be submitted in order to later adjust the status of someone with a U visa. Some such items are:
- Evidence of the applicant’s U visa approval;
- A medical examination and vaccination record;
- The applicant’s birth certificate;
- Copies of all passports;
- An affidavit attesting to three years of continuous physical presence in the United States since being admitted on a U visa;
- Evidence to show at least three years of continuous physical presence.
Those who are not admissible under current United States law may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192 – Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant. If you would like to apply for a U Visa, consult with an experienced immigration attorney. It is always a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney when you prepare an immigration-related petition or waiver request to obtain legal advice and assistance. Also, an attorney can assist you in identifying and collecting the best evidence to support your petition or waiver request.