The U visa was established through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. Congress recognized that many undocumented victims of serious crimes would not seek for help from law enforcement because they fear deportation. Thus, in order to encourage the victims to cooperate with the police and prosecutors, Congress created the U visa.
Q. What proofs do I need in order to get a U visa?
A. You must demonstrate all of the following:
1) You are a victim of criminal activity designated in section 101(a)(15)(U) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("Act");
2) You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of qualifying criminal activity;
2) You possess information concerning the qualifying criminal activity of which you were a victim;
3) A certification from the police or prosecutor showing that you have been, you are being or you are likely to be helpful to the official in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal act of which you are a victim; and
4) The criminal activity of which you are a victim violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States or the territories and possessions of the United States.
Q. What criminal activities are designated in the Act?
A. Such activity is defined as one or more of the following or any similar activity in violation of Federal, State or local criminal law:
5. Domestic violence;
6. Sexual assault;
7. Abusive sexual contact;
9. Sexual exploitation;
10. Female genital mutilation;
11. Being held hostage;
13. Involuntary servitude;
14. Slave trade;
17. Unlawful criminal restraint;
18. False imprisonment;
23. Felonious assault;
24. Witness tampering;
25. Obstruction of justice;
26. Perjury; or
27. Attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above.
Q. Does the perpetrator of the crime need to be convicted?
A. No, there does not have to be a conviction.
Q. How can I prove that I am the victim of qualifying criminal activity?
A. You must demonstrate you have suffered direct and proximate harm as a result of the commission of qualifying criminal activity. You may use Form I-918B to help establish this requirement, but you should consider submitting any additional evidence such as 1) trial transcripts; 2) court documents; 3) police reports; 4) news articles; 5) affidavits; or 6) orders of protection. This list is non-exhaustive.
Q. How can I show that I have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse?
A. You must present credible evidence that demonstrates you suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of qualifying criminal activity. You may use Form I-918B to help establish this eligibility requirement, but you should also consider submitting any additional evidence such as 1) reports from court officials, medical personnel, social workers and other social service personnel; 2) order of protection; 3) photos of your visible injuries supported by affidavits; 4) affidavits from witnesses who have personal knowledge of the facts. This list is non-exhaustive.
To determine whether the abuse is substantial, USCIS will focus on 1) the nature of the injury inflicted; 2) the severity of the perpetrator's conduct; 3) the severity of the harm you suffered; 4) the duration of the infliction of the harm;
and 4) the extent to which there is permanent or serious harm to your appearance, health, or physical or mental condition.
Q. How can I demonstrate that I possess information concerning qualifying criminal activity?
A. You must demonstrate that you have knowledge of details concerning the criminal activity that would assist in the investigation or prosecution of that criminal activity. You may use Form I-918B to help establish this eligibility requirement, but you should submit any additional evidence such as reports and affidavits from police, judges, and other court officials.
Q. How can I show that I am likely to be helpful to the official in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity?
A. You must submit Form I-918B where a law enforcement official with knowledge about the case and who is in a supervisory role within the organization certifies your helpfulness. You should also include any additional evidence you want USCIS to consider such as 1) trial transcripts, 2) court documents; 3) police reports; 4) news articles; 5) copies of reimbursement forms for travel to and from court; and 6) affidavits of other witnesses or officials. This list is non-exhaustive.
Q. How can I show that the criminal activity is qualifying and violated U.S. law or occurred in the United States?
A. You must submit Form I-918B to help establish this eligibility requirement. But you should also include with your petition any additional evidence such as a copy of the statutory provision(s) showing the elements of the offense or factual information about the criminal activity demonstrating that it is similar to a crime contained in the list of qualifying criminal activity.
Q. Can I file for a qualifying family member when I apply for my U visa?
A. Qualifying family members may be included in the application.
If you are under the age of 21 years, you may apply for your 1) spouse, 2) unmarried children under the age of 21, 3) parent(s), and/or 4) unmarried siblings under the age of 18. If you are over the age of 21 years, you may apply for your 1) spouse and/or 2) unmarried children under the age of 21.
Q. How many people are granted U visas each year?
A. Currently, there is a limit of 10,000 U visas that may be granted each year. USCIS, nevertheless, grants "deferred action" to approvable applicants on the wait list. A grant of deferred action then allows the applicant to request a work permit while he or she is waiting for visas to be available.
Q. Once I obtain a U-visa, will I be eligible for a green card?
A. You may apply for a green card after three years of having U visa status.