Nonimmigrant U Status
The U nonimmigrant visa is designated for victims of certain crimes who may have suffered physical and mental abuse. These victims must also have aided government officials or law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminals. In 2000, U-visas were created along with the passing of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.
The legislation helped better serve the victims of such crimes while also strengthening law enforcement’s ability to prosecute cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, and trafficking of aliens. As with asylum visas, U-visas have strict eligibility requirements.
You may be eligible for U-status if:
- You are found to be the victim of a qualifying crime
- You have suffered mental or physical abuse due to this crime
- You possess information about the crime (or have a parent, guardian, or friend who may provide information on your behalf if you are under 16 or have a disability)
- You were deemed successful in helping law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of a crime
- The crime broke U.S. laws or occurred in the U.S.
- You are admissible to the United States or have applied for a waiver if non-admissible
To be eligible for a U-visa, the crime committed must qualify under specific guidelines. Some of the most common qualifying criminal activities include abduction, extortion, blackmail, hostage, murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, domestic violence, obstruction of justice, perjury, rape, prostitution, and sexual abuse.
Also considered a qualifying criminal activity is sexual exploitation, stalking, slave trade, trafficking, torture, witness tampering, female genital mutilation, abusive sexual contact, fraud in foreign labor contracting, peonage, involuntary servitude, incest, manslaughter, felonious assault, and unlawful criminal restraint.
If you believe that you meet the eligibility requirements for a U-visa, you can apply for U nonimmigrant status if you are living in the U.S., as well as if you are living outside the U.S.
Types of U-Visas
There are four main types of U-visas: U-1, U-2, U-3, and U4.
U-1 visas are for individuals who qualify as crime victims and fit other criteria. U-visa holders have legal status in the U.S., can receive employment authorization, and may have the opportunity to pursue citizenship. To petition for U nonimmigrant status, you must submit Form I-918 (Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status) and Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. You must also provide a personal statement describing the criminal activity and any evidence that supports eligibility requirements.
U-2 visas are designated for spouses of U-1 applicants. If you are a spouse of a victim of crime, such as domestic abuse, rape, or torture, you may be suitable for U-2 status. To obtain a U derivative visa, the U-visa principal must petition on the behalf of his or her qualifying spouse.
U-3 visas are designated for children of U-1 applicants. Children of a U-1 visa holder may qualify for a U-3 visa if the U-1 visa holder is at least 21 years of age. U-3 visa holders are able to apply for permanent residency after three years of U visa nonimmigrant status.
U-4 visas are suitable for parents of U-1 applicants who are children. This includes parents of U-1 holders who are under 21 years of age.