A U visa is a United States nonimmigrant visa that is set aside for victims of crimes (and their immediate family members) who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse while in the U.S. and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
The U visa program was created 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 persons, and other crimes while, at the same time, offering protection to victims of such crimes.
Eligibility Requirements for U Visa
The eligibility requirements for a U visa include the following:
- You must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
- You must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime.
- You must have information about the criminal activity.
- You must be helpful, or likely to be helpful, in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- The crime must have occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws.
- You must be admissible to the U.S. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver.
Qualifying Criminal Activities
Qualifying criminal activities for U visa eligibility are defined by regulation and include the following (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Hostage Taking
- Involuntary Servitude
- Sexual Assault
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other related crimes
Application Process for U Visa
The application process for a U visa can be complicated and lengthy, often taking several years. It involves the following steps:
- Completion of Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. If you are inadmissible, you will also need to complete Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant.
- Completion of Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification, which must be certified by an authorized official of the agency that is investigating or prosecuting the crime.
- Collection of evidence to show that you meet all eligibility requirements.
- Submission of all forms and evidence to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Once granted, the U visa provides the recipient with legal status to reside in the United States for up to four years, with the possibility to apply for a green card after three years.
Applying for a U visa can be a complex process. It’s crucial to work with a knowledgeable attorney who understands the nuances of U visa law and can guide you through the process. The Law Office of Ghenadie Rusu is equipped with the necessary expertise and experience to assist you in this endeavor.