If you have been a victim of certain crimes you can apply for a U visa to stay in the United States legally and safely. But anyone could ask: “What is the U visa and how to apply for it?”. At Urbina Immigration Law we will tell you everything you need to know about what the U visa is and how you can apply for it.
If you are looking for legal advice to apply for a U visa, Urbina Immigration Law can help you navigate the complex U.S. immigration system.
Table of Contents
U Visa: What is it?
It is a visa designed to protect victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and who are willing to assist authorities in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity.
What are the requirements to apply for a U visa?
To apply for a U visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have been the victim of a qualifying criminal act.
- Have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of such criminal act.
- Have information about criminal activity.
- Have been helpful or are assisting law enforcement entities in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- The crime occurred and/or violated the laws of the United States.
- Be eligible for admission to the United States. However, you can apply for a waiver if your case warrants it. if your case warrants it.
Remember, if you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, your parent, guardian, or legal representative may provide crime-related information on your behalf.
How to obtain a U visa?
If you are in the United States, you may apply for a U visa by completing and submitting the following form Form I-918 along with a statement detailing the criminal activity of which you were a victim and evidence establishing each of the eligibility requirements at the Vermont USCIS service center.
If you are outside the United States, you must follow all instructions sent by the USCIS Service Center, which include fingerprinting at the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
Finally, if your petition is approved, you must continue with consular processing to enter the United States, which includes an interview with a consular affairs officer at the nearest Embassy or Consulate.
What are the benefits of the U visa?
Among the many benefits of a U visa are the following:
- Protection against deportation.
- Work permit and Social Security number.
- Possibility of bringing family members into the country as derivative beneficiaries.
- Eligibility for permanent residency and U.S. citizenship.
- Eligibility to apply for employment authorization while awaiting the availability of additional U visas.
What crimes apply to obtain a U visa?
The following table details all criminal activities that qualify for a U visa:
|Assault with a weapon
|Abusive sexual content
|Fraud in the hiring of foreign labor
|Female genital mutilation
|Obstruction of justice
|Illegal criminal restraint
Can I file a U visa application for my family?
Yes, certain members of your family may file an application for a derivative U visa.
Your family members may submit their application at the same time or after you submit yours. However, the principal petitioner’s application must be approved in order for derivative beneficiaries to obtain their U visa.
Therefore, the process of adding family members to your application is extremely delicate, and there are certain actions that could compromise your family member’s application.
At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you with the process of applying for a U derivative visa for your family.
Which family members can apply for a U derivative visa?
Family members eligible for the U visa depend on the age of the principal petitioner. In the following table we specify which members of your family will be able to apply for your derivative U visa:
|If the principal petitioner is…
|Under 21 years of age
|Apply for a U visa on behalf of your spouse, children, parents and unmarried family members under 18 years of age.
|Over 21 years old
|Apply for a U visa in the name of your spouse or children.
Can I apply for permanent residency with a U visa?
Yes, you can apply for permanent residence as a U visa holder without any problem.
However, you should not apply for permanent residence until all family members you want to include have obtained their U visa and arrived in the United States (if they were not already present).
If you become a permanent resident before your visas are approved or before you arrive in the country, your family members will lose the possibility of obtaining a U visa.
In the event that your U visa expires before your family members arrive, it is recommended that you contact an attorney to extend your visa until your family arrives in the United States. You may then apply for lawful permanent residence.
If you need to extend your U visa or are having difficulty including your family members as beneficiaries, Urbina Immigration Law can help you.
Can I apply for citizenship on a U visa?
Yes, once a period of 3 years has passed after your U visa application is approved you can obtain permanent resident status. After that, you can apply for U.S. citizenship without any problems.
However, there are certain requirements you must meet to become a U.S. citizen. Learn more about the requirements to apply for U.S. citizenship..
U visa application process
To apply for a U visa, you will need to follow the steps below:
- Completion of USCIS forms.
- Gather documents and evidence that can serve as supplemental evidence to support your case.
- Send all documentation to USCIS.
- Wait for the immigration authorities to review your case and decide if you can be granted a U visa.
Please note that it is not necessary to go to court or to an interview. You will not be required to appear with a lawyer, but it is always best to apply for a U visa with the help of a professional as the application process for this visa can be extremely complex.
That is why at Urbina Immigration Law we are committed to give you quality legal advice to bring your case to a successful conclusion.
To apply for a U visa you will need to submit, in addition to the USCIS forms, some specific documents showing that you have been a victim of a qualifying crime and that you have cooperated with the justice and the law enforcement in its investigation and prosecution.
The process of gathering and submitting all the necessary documentation to apply for a U visa can be arduous and confusing at times. This is why it is important to seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney who can get your papers in order.
If you are having difficulties with your U visa application, Urbina Immigration Law can help you. One of our experienced attorneys can explain what documents you need and how to submit them.
USCIS Forms and Personal Statement
- Form I-918Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status.
- Form G-28Notice of Appearance as Attorney or Authorized Representative.
- Detailed cover letter with index of supporting documents.
- Detailed statement or affidavit of the applicant.
- Immigration waiver (only if the applicant has any cause of inadmissibility to enter the country).
- Form I-192Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.
- Evidence for the waiver, including a statement explaining the details of the victimization, the reasons and circumstances why the waiver is needed, and any supporting documentation.
- Form I-912, fee waiver associated with Form I-192, with supporting documentation.
- FormulForm I-765Application for Employment Authorization (depending on the U visa waiting list); must be on the same fee waiver application as Form I-192 (if applicable).
- Include 2 passport photos.
- Use eligibility code c(14).
- Include the Form I-765W, explaining the financial need for the work authorization.
Evidence to corroborate your identity
- Birth certificate
- Visa (if you have one)
Two passport photos (if you are applying for your U visa outside the U.S.)
Substantial evidence that he suffered physical or mental abuse
Remember that the U visa is granted only to victims of crimes who have suffered significant physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime.
To prove this, you must present documentation that demonstrates the existence of such criminal activity and the physical and/or mental harm it caused you. These are some of the documents you may submit as evidence:
- Affidavit with detailed descriptions of the abuses resulting from the criminal activity.
- Shelter records and other evidence that the victim sought shelter or protection
- Records and advisory reports.
- Medical records documenting abuse.
- Photographs of a visibly injured self-incriminate, injury or property damage, supported by affidavits.
- Affidavits (a notarized statement), declarations (a signed statement under penalty of perjury) or letters from witnesses such as shelter workers, police officers, counselors, therapists, social workers, medical workers.
- Police reports, police records, criminal court records, complaints.
Evidence of cooperation with law enforcement agencies
You must submit Form I-98 Supplement B as evidence of your cooperation with law enforcement. This is a certification from a police authority or prosecutor certifying your cooperation with the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
It must be signed by an authorized law enforcement officer and must have been executed within 6 months from the time of filing.
The following agencies may grant you a certificate of cooperation:
- Federal, state or local prosecutor.
- Federal or state judge.
- Police investigator.
- A victim/witness advocate for the prosecution.
- Other local authority in charge of investigating or prosecuting criminal activities.
Documentation to include family members
To apply for a U derivative visa for one of your family members, you must submit the following documentation:
- Form I-918 Supplement A, Petition for Qualified Relative of U-1 Beneficiary.
- Proof of relationship to the applicant (birth certificates; marriage certificates, etc.).
- Form I-192 Derivative Fee Waiver (if applicable).
- Copy of Forms I-918 and I-918 Supplement B of the principal applicant.
- Copy of Form I-94 (if not filed with the principal applicant’s Form I-918).
What happens after the application process?
Once you have submitted all the documentation and completed the application process for your U visa, you will have to wait until your application is approved or denied. This can take up to 5 years, so it is always advisable to seek legal assistance from an immigration attorney who can expedite the process as much as possible.
Why is my U Visa delayed?
The delay is due to the fact that USCIS issues only 10,000 U visas per year and, due to the large number of pending applications, these are easily exhausted. Pending applications are placed on a waiting list until a U visa slot becomes available.
But don’t be alarmed, all pending applicants will be granted deferred action or entry clearance .
How long is a U visa valid for?
The U visa is valid for 4 years. However, it is feasible to request an extension in specific situations, which are as follows:
- Extension at the request of a law enforcement agency.
- Extension due to exceptional circumstances.
- Extension for delays in consular processing.
- Automatic extension for filing and processing of adjustment of status application (Green Card application).
How to prevent your U visa from being denied
An application for a U visa application can be denied for several reasons. The most common are the existence of a ground of inadmissibility (e.g., criminal record), failure to cooperate with authorities in the investigation of crimes, and insufficient documentation.
Therefore, it is recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney who can assist you in the process. Here at Urbina Law Firm we can assist you in the U visa application process.
Can I get married if I have a U visa?
Yes, you can get married if you have a U visa. However, this could bring some complications. Learn more about how marriage can affect your U visa application and status.
Can I travel with a U visa?
Yes, you may travel outside the U.S. with an approved U visa. However, keep in mind that the validity of this visa has a time limit and, if it expires while you are abroad, it could lead to complications in re-entering the country. Learn more about how to travel safely with your U visa.
What is the difference between a U visa and a VAWA visa?
The U Visa is a nonimmigrant visa granted to victims of certain crimes who have cooperated with authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. In contrast, the VAWA Visa is an immigrant visa granted to certain spouses and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who have been abused by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.
Can I apply for a U visa if I have committed a crime?
This will depend on whether or not the crime you committed is pardonable. There are certain crimes that immigration can forgive through a waiver or immigration pardon, with which the immigrant could enter the United States and apply for both the U visa and any other kind of visa. Learn more about immigration waivers.