U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is a path towards permanent residence for victims or witnesses of certain crimes who have suffered harm and can help with the investigation or prosecution of that criminal activity.
You may be eligible for a U visa if:
You were the victim of or witnessed a qualifying criminal activity in the United States;
You have suffered substantial physical or mental harm as a result of being a victim or witness of the crime;
You have information about the crime and are willing to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
If you are over 21, you can include your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. If you are under 21, you can include your spouse, children, parents, and unmarried siblings under the age of 18 at the time Form I-918 is received by USCIS.
It is important to consult with an immigration attorney to determine your eligibility and to assist you with this complicated process.
Step 1 – Form I-918 Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification
Request the mandatory law enforcement certification — which attests to the individual’s willingness to cooperate in an investigation or prosecution of the crime — from a certifying agency:
Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies;
Federal, State and Local Prosecutors’ offices;
Federal, State and Local Judges (*NOTE: Judges are usually reluctant to certify);
Equal Employment Opportunity Commision;
Federal and State Department of Labor; and
Other Investigative Agencies
Step 2 – Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
After receiving a U visa certification, file Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status with all required supporting documentation:
a personal statement describing that the individual is a victim of a crime that occurred in the U.S. (or in violation of U.S. law),
the criminal act,
the physical and mental harm/abuse you suffered as a result,
and their past efforts or future willingness to assist law enforcement.
Additional supporting documentation includes pictures and recordings of physical injury, police reports, and affidavits from witnesses, where applicable.
For individuals who entered the country unlawfully, file Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant to request a waiver of inadmissibility. Form I-192 has a filing fee, but individuals may request a fee waiver.
Only 10,000 U visas are granted a year and the current wait period for a U visa is approximately 4 years.
NIJC’s Guidance for applying for a U Visa
DHS’s Guidance for Law Enforcement Certification
Women’s Law Center Guidance for Applying for a U Visa
National Immigrant Justice Center Guide on U Visa
U.S. Department of Homeland Security – U Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide