U Visa for Crime Victims
If you were the victim of a crime and if you can help law enforcement investigate and/or prosecute that crime, you may be eligible to file for a U visa. The U visa is for victims of certain crimes that have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of that crime. Enacted by Congress in 2000, U visas are meant to help strengthen law enforcements ability to investigate and prosecute certain crimes that effect the immigrant community by encouraging immigrant victims to come forward, report the crimes, and assist in the investigation and prosecution of the crime without the fear of being deported. This tool also helps foster a relationship of cooperation with the immigrant community and law enforcement officials. A U visa can last for up to four years and may be extended under certain circumstances.
To be eligible for a U visa, you must prove the following:
- 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.
- You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
- You are admissible to the United States.
Note: If you meet the above eligibility but are not currently in the United States, you may still apply for a U visa.
You may be eligible for a U visa if you were the victim of one of the following crimes:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes
To apply for a U visa, the petitioner will have to complete the following forms:
Form I-918: Petition for U nonimmigrant status
Form I-918 Supplement (has to be signed by a certifying law enforcement agency that says you are cooperating and helpful during the investigation or prosecution of the crime you were a victim of)
You will also have to write a personal statement describing the crime that you were a victim of and supply evidence to support each of the edibility requirements listed above.Limits on U visas
By statute, USCIS is limited to granting 10,000 U visas each year. Once the cap for U visas has been met for a given year, USCIS will create a waiting list for any eligible petitioners and award U visas as they become available in the order the applications were filed. While on the waiting list, petitioners will receive deferred status and may apply for work and travel authorization.