What is a U Visa?
A U visa is available to victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. U Visas were created by Congress as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in October 2000.
What are the eligibility requirements for a U Visa?
To be eligible for a U Visa, you must prove all of the following:
- You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity;
- You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity;
- You have information about the criminal activity;
- You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime;
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws, and;
- You are not inadmissible to the United States, or you have an approved waiver of inadmissibility.
What is a “qualifying criminal activity?”
You must be a victim of one or more of the following crimes in order to be eligible for a U Visa:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes*†
*Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.
†Also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes.
How long is a U Visa valid for?
A U Visa is valid for 4 years. However, extensions are available in certain, limited circumstances if the extension is:
- Needed based on a request from law enforcement,
- Needed based on exceptional circumstances,
- Needed due to delays in consular processing, or
- Automatically extended upon the filing and pendency of an application for adjustment (application for a Green Card).
What is the U Visa Cap?
Only 10,000 U Visas can be granted each year. If the cap is reached before all U nonimmigrant petitions have been adjudicated, USCIS will place eligible petitioners on a waiting list. Petitioners on the waiting list will be granted deferred action or parole and are eligible to apply for employment authorization while they wait.
Can U Visa Beneficiary’s obtain a Green Card?
U Visa Beneficiaries (and their derivative family members) are eligible to apply for a Green Card if they meet all of the following requirements:
- You have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years while in U nonimmigrant status, and;
- You have not unreasonably refused to provide assistance to law enforcement since you received your U visa.
Contact Us today to find out if you are eligible for a U Visa.