Are you a victim of a crime who wishes to live in the United States?
If you are a foreign-born person who is the victim of a crime and have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse, you may be eligible to apply for a U visa if you are willing to assist a law enforcement agency in investigating the crime. After being in the US for 3 years in U status, you may apply for a green card.
A U visa (or U status) permits you to live and work in the US. Once you obtain a U visa, you can apply for lawful status for your spouse and children. You can also apply for an Employment Authorization Document.
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In order to submit a petition for a U visa, you must obtain a certification for a law enforcement agency in the US that
- You are the victim of certain type of criminal activity;
- You possesses information concerning the criminal activity; and
- You are likely to be helpful in the investigation of the criminal activity and/or the prosecution of the crime.
There are specific requirements that must be satisfied before your Form I-918 Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status can be approved. You must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to a criminal activity in one of the following categories: 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 attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes.
It is important to note that if at any point you stop cooperating with law enforcement, your certificate can be withdrawn.
There is a 10,000 numerical limit on the number of U visas which may be issued each year.
U Visas: Additional Resources
- Obtaining a U Visa for a Crime Victim
- Form I-918 Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (USCIS)
- USCIS U Nonimmigrant Status Update (USCIS)
- U Nonimmigrant Status Fact Sheet (USCIS)
- Green Card for a Victim of a Crime (USCIS)
- AAO Non-Precedent Decisions on Petitions for U Status
- U Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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