The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for 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. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of noncitizens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve victims of crimes.
U Nonimmigrant Eligibility
You may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if:
Qualifying Criminal Activities
How to apply for U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa)
To apply (petition) for a U nonimmigrant status, submit:
You may also apply (petition) for U nonimmigrant status if you are outside the United States. To do this, you must:
Who may be included in your application?
Can I extend my U Visa?
When U nonimmigrant status is granted, it is valid for four years. However, extensions are available in certain, limited circumstances if the extension is
How soon can I get my U visa? Can I get a work Permit while I am waiting?
If the cap is reached before all U nonimmigrant petitions have been adjudicated, USCIS will create a waiting list for any eligible principal or derivative petitioners that are awaiting a final decision and a U visa. Petitioners placed on the waiting list will be granted deferred action or parole and are eligible to apply for work authorization while waiting for additional U visas to become available.
Once additional visas become available, those petitioners on the waiting list will receive their visa in the order in which their petition was received. Petitioners on the waiting list do not have to take any additional steps to request the U visa. USCIS will notify the petitioner of the approval and the accompanying U visa.
Derivative family members residing inside the United States are also employment authorized incident to status, however an employment authorization document is not automatically issued. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, may be filed for a derivative to obtain an employment authorization document.
Employment authorization for principals and derivatives can only be issued after the underlying U nonimmigrant status petition is approved, regardless of when the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is filed.
If the statutory cap is reached in a fiscal year and USCIS uses the waiting list process described at 8 CFR 214.14(d)(2), petitioners for U nonimmigrant status and derivatives in the United States can apply for employment authorization using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on deferred action. An application for employment authorization based on deferred action can only be approved after DHS has deferred action in your case, regardless of when the Form I-765 is filed.
Pathway to Permanent Residence
You may be eligible to apply for a Green Card (adjustment of status/permanent residence) if you meet certain requirements, including:
If the family member deriving status based on your status has met the eligibility requirements for a Green Card, they may apply for lawful permanent residence by filing their own Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Even if your family members never had U nonimmigrant status or a U visa, they may still be eligible for a Green Card.
First, you must file a Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Nonimmigrant, for each eligible family member. You may file the Form I-929 at the same time or after you file your Form I-485. Family members outside the United States must first visit a U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain their immigrant visa.
U nonimmigrant status in Removal Proceedings
Upon grant of relief, including U Nonimmigrant Status or deferred action, your attorney should move to terminate proceedings because the respondent is no longer removable as charged.
If you have a prior order of removal and is granted U Nonimmigrant Status your attorney can help you file a motion to reopen to terminate and rescind the order of removal. The regulations state that ICE may join such a motion, at its discretion.
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