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 aliens 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:
• 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. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on your behalf (see glossary for definition of ‘next friend’).
• You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf.
• The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
• You are admissible to the United States. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.
If you are victim of the following criminal activities, you may qualify for a U visa:
• Abusive Sexual Contact
• Domestic Violence
• False Imprisonment
• Female Genital Mutilation
• Felonious Assault
• Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting;Hostage
• Involuntary Servitude
• Obstruction of Justice
• Rape or 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 we can help you apply for U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa)
To apply (petition) for a U nonimmigrant status, we would submit:
• Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
• U Nonimmigrant Status Certification which must be signed by and authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency and the official must confirm that you were helpful, and currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case.
• If any inadmissibility issues are present, you must file a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant, to request a waiver of the inadmissibility;
• A personal statement describing the criminal activity of which you were a victim; and
• Evidence to establish each eligibility requirement – visit our Forms section, specifically the Humanitarian Benefits Based Forms.
You may also apply (petition) for U nonimmigrant status if you are outside the United States. To do this, you must:
• File all the necessary forms for U nonimmigrant status with the Vermont Service Center.
• Follow all instructions that are sent from the Vermont Service Center, which will include having your fingerprints taken at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
• If your petition is approved, you must consular process to enter the United States, which will include an interview with a consular officer at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
• Information about your nearest United States Embassy or Consulate can be found at www.usembassy.gov.
Filing for Qualifying Family Members
Certain qualifying family members are eligible for a derivative U visa based on their relationship to you, the principal, filing for the U visa. The principal petitioner must have their petition for a U visa approved before their family members can be eligible for their own derivative U visa.
If you, the principal, are. Then…
Under 21 years of age You may petition on behalf of your spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings under age 18
21 years of age or older. You may petition on behalf of your spouse and children.
To petition for a qualified family member, you must file a Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient, at the same time as your application or at a later time.
U Visa Extensions
When U nonimmigrant status is granted, it is valid for four 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).
U Visa Cap
• The limit on the number of U visas that may be granted to principal petitioners each year is 10,000. However, there is no cap for family members deriving status from the principal applicant, such as spouses, children, or other eligible family members.
• 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.
Applying for a Green Card
You may be eligible to apply for a Green Card (adjustment of status/permanent residence) if you meet certain requirements, including:
• 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.
• To apply for permanent residence (a Green Card) for yourself or a qualifying family member, visit our Green Card for a U Nonimmigrant page.
• PLEASE NOTE: Any qualifying family member who does not have a derivative U visa when the principal U nonimmigrant receives a Green Card is no longer eligible for a derivative U visa, but may still be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence.
• For information on extending your principal U visa to ensure your family member remains eligible for a U visa, please visit the T and U visa extension memorandum.