U Visa

U Visa: A Path to a Green Card for Victims of Crime and their families

There is a pathway in which many persons who are undocumented in this country can obtain status, without leaving the country, and without having any legal relatives in the US. Even better, if they qualify, they can get permanent residence for their entire family.

What is the U visa?

It is the U visa – and it can offer help to many people who need status the most: victims of domestic violence, exploited workers, victims of sexual violence, street crimes or other criminal conduct.

Here is how this extraordinary program works:

• There must have been a criminal act committed in the U.S., no matter how long ago. The crime must have violated Federal, State, or local law.

• The person applying must have suffered physical or mental harm as a result. The harm can be emotional. It is not necessary that there be physical harm.

• The person applying must possess information concerning the crime and have been helpful, are being helpful, or are likely to be helpful to the police, sheriff, district attorney or some other agency which investigated the crime.

Who may qualify for a U Visa?

• Women who were abused by their spouse, boyfriend or domestic partner; the couple did not need to be married or even living together.

• Parents of minor children who were the victims of domestic violence;

• Persons who were victims of gang violence;

• Parents or siblings of young people who were victims of violence, including gang violence.

• Persons who were victims of other street crimes;

• Persons who were the victims of traffickers or prostitution

• Women who were victims of statutory rape;

• Persons who were kidnapped or subject to ransom by immigrant smugglers;

• Workers whose employer was guilty of criminal violation of workplace laws.

How does one apply for the U visa?

In order to qualify for the U visa, you or your representative must obtain a signature from the police, sheriff, district attorney, court or other law enforcement authority responsible for investigation or prosecution of U crime. This can include the victims rights offices of the District Attorney or police, or even agencies like Child Protective Services, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor. Once this certification is obtained, an application is submitted to the Immigration Service with a statement of the applicant, affidavits from others, police, court or medical records and other supporting material.

Can I get a work permit through a U Visa?

Presently there is a long backlog on the U visa application process but the Biden Administration has implemented a new benefit that allows bona fide applicants to obtain a work permit while their applications are pending. Now, one can expect to obtain a work permit and a valid social security card long before the visa process is completed.

How Does One Get a Green Card through the U Visa?

After 3 years on the U visa, a foreign national is eligible to obtain a green card for themselves and their dependents. The immigrant can apply to change their status to permanent residence through a process known as “adjustment of status”. There are many necessary forms and documents necessary to submit with the marriage petition, including photos, birth and marriage records and other immigration forms. It generally takes only 12-24 months to finish the adjustment of status process. Sometimes there is an interview at the end of the application process, which the applicant must attend.

Our office has handled more than 500 such U visa applications and have had a very high rate of approval.

WARNING: The foregoing is an article discussing legal issues. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you get competent legal advice specific to your case.

Links:

  • Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status (USCIS)
  • Visas for Victims of Criminal Activity (US Department of State)
  • U Visa Immigration Relief for Victims of Certain Crimes (DHS)