The U nonimmigrant status (also known as the U visa) is an immigration relief program that seeks to make it safer for victims of certain crimes to report their cases to law enforcement and be willing to help authorities pursue criminal cases. A U visa can give a person temporary immigration status such as work authorization, temporary immigration status for a victim’s qualifying family members, and the possibility of lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.
Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) in 2000 and created two categories of nonimmigrant visas, the U visa for victims of certain crimes and T visas specifically for victims of trafficking. Obtaining a U visa is not always easy, and any person seeking a U visa should be sure to work with a Los Angeles U-Visa attorney.
U Visa Eligibility United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that people are eligible for U nonimmigrant visas if they are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
The phrase qualifying criminal activity is defined as including
- 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
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes where the criminal elements are substantially similar
The phrase also includes attempts, conspiracies, or solicitations to commit any of the offenses above or other related crimes.
Additional U visa eligibility includes
- A person suffering substantial physical or mental abuse because of being a victim of criminal activity.
- A person having information about criminal activity. If a person is under 16 years of age or is unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend can possess the information about the crime on their behalf.
- A person who was helpful, is helpful, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If a person is under 16 years of age or is unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on their behalf.
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated American laws.
- A person is admissible to the United States. If a person is not admissible, they can apply for a waiver on Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to enter as a nonimmigrant.
Applying for a U Visa
To apply (or petition) for a U visa, a person must submit
- Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status ● Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. A Form I-918, Supplement B, must be signed by an authorized official of a certifying law enforcement agency and the official must confirm that a person was helpful, and is currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case. ● If any inadmissibility issues are present, a person must file a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant, to request a waiver of the inadmissibility;
- A personal statement describing the criminal activity of which a person was a victim; and
- Evidence to establish each eligibility requirement – visit our Forms section, specifically the Humanitarian Benefits Based Forms.
A person can also apply for a U visa if they are outside the United States. They will need to
- File all necessary forms for U nonimmigrant status with the Vermont Service Center.
- Follow all instructions that are sent from the Vermont Service Center, which will include having their fingerprints taken at the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate.
- If their petition is approved, they must engage in a consular process to enter the United States, which will include an interview with a consular officer at the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate.
The most recent USCIS statistics indicate an 87 percent approval rate for U visa petitioners. A U visa should be free, so you do not have to pay excessive costs to pursue a U visa.
Call Us Today to Speak with a Los Angeles U-Visa Attorney
Did you need help obtaining a U visa in Los Angeles? You will want to be sure you speak to the Law Office of Todd Becraft about your case because our firm has an in-depth understanding of U visas and issues people commonly encounter.
Our firm will know how to help you get around any complication and be able to achieve the most favorable possible outcome for your case. You may call (213) 388-1821 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our Los Angeles U-Visa attorney.