U Visa for Victims of Crimes
Overview of U Visa
The U visa is a very powerful immigration category that can benefit foreigners inside and outside the United States, as well as their dependent family members, that have inadmissibility problems such as entering the United States without inspection, false claims to US Citizenship, crimes of moral turpitude, misrepresentation issues, among other serious immigration violations.
If eligible for a U visa, there is a broad waiver that is often available. After 3 years of U visa status, the foreigner can apply for permanent residence (green card). The downside of the U visa is the foreigner must have been the victim of a serious crime. The U visa is a special nonimmigrant visa that grants temporary status to eligible victims of certain crimes, if the victim cooperates with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. Congress created this special visa category with the passing of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. There are 10,000 visa numbers available in this category per year. U visas may include status for your spouse and child if you are over 21 years old, and can also include your parents if you are under 21.
Are you a Victim of Crime?
If you have been a victim of a crime, you may be eligible of a U visa. The benefit of a U Visa is that it leads to permanent residency (“green card”) and can often forgive previous immigration and criminal violations (i.e. crossing the border illegally).
U Visa Eligibility
To qualify for a U visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be the victim of one or more criminal activities. These criminal activities include but not limited to: Rape; Torture; Trafficking; Stalking; Incest; Domestic violence; Sexual assault; Abusive sexual conduct; Prostitution; Sexual exploitation; Female genital mutilation; Being held hostage; Peonage; Involuntary servitude; Slave trade; Fraud in foreign labor contracting; Kidnapping; Abduction; Unlawful criminal restraint; False imprisonment; Blackmail; Extortion; Manslaughter; Murder; Felonious assault; Witness tampering; Obstruction of Justice; Perjury; Attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above; or other related crimes.
- Have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime;
- The crime occurred in the United States or the territories and possessions of the United States, or violated U.S. laws;
- Have information about the crime;
- Have been or you are likely to be helpful in assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of said crime; and,
- Eligible to apply for entry into the United States, or to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility.
U Visa requirements
When filing for a U visa, it is necessary to supply a signed certification from an authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency. The official must confirm that you are indeed the victim of a crime, and that you have been, you are being or you are likely to be cooperating with the investigation or prosecution of the crime. In addition, you will provide a personal statement describing the crime and any additional evidence available to support each eligibility requirement. After three years on U visa status, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residence (a “green card”), provided that you have had continuous presence in the U.S. for at least 3 years since admission, have not left the U.S. for more than 90 days, and have complied with reasonable requests from law enforcement.