Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in October 2000. The legislation is intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while at the same time, offer protection to victims of these crimes.
MyRights Immigration Law Firm has helped many people obtain a U visa after being victim of a crime and has helped people holding a U visa become lawful permanent residents through adjustment of status under INA 245(m). Please schedule an appointment to discuss your individual case with one of our immigration attorneys.
Immediate family members of the victim may also obtain U visa status if the U visa is approved. The petitions for family members can and usually should be filed concurrently with the application for a U visa. After three years of continuous residence in the United States, a U visa holder may obtain lawful permanent residence.
The requirements for a U visa are:
- Have suffered substantial physically or mentally as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity;
- Have information concerning that criminal activity;
- Have been helpful, is being helpful, or likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and
- The criminal activity violated U.S. laws.
Obtaining the U Visa Certification
Not all victims of qualifying crimes will be able to obtain a U visa. The first step is to obtain a U visa Certification from the appropriate certifying agency. Certifying agencies can be Federal, State, of local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges, or other authority that investigates or prosecutes criminal activity.
Individual agencies may have varying policies regarding when they will sign the U via certification. If a person is unable to obtain a properly executed certification, that person will be unable to establish eligibility for the U visa with USCIS.
The certifying agency must sign form I-918B, which must then be included as part of the evidence submitted in support of the application for the U visa.
Applying for a Non-immigrant Waiver
An application for a U visa is an application for admission in a non-immigrant status. This is one of the few non-immigrant visas that may be applied for after a person has entered the United States unlawfully. All grounds of inadmissibility under INA 212(a) apply and if necessary the applicant should include an application for a non-immigrant waiver.
This is most common for inadmissibility under INA 212(a)(6)(A)(i), for being present in the United States without having been admitted or paroled. The waiver is requested on form I-192.