What is a “U-Visa” in the United States?

When an illegal immigrant is a victim of a serious crime in the United States, they are usually afraid to go to law enforcement to help them solve the crime they were involved in. When this happens, the country offers a type of visa for victims of a crime that allows them to hold the perpetrator responsible.

What is a U-Visa?

A “U-Visa” is available for victims of crime and their immediate family members. This is in the event that they become seriously injured as a result of the crime. This may be physically or mentally injured. The visa allows these individuals to help law enforcement and government officials with an investigation of the crime they were involved in. This is issued so that they may help with assisting these investigations without worrying about their future within the country. The U-Visa may also be issued to those involved in domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking cases.

The limit to the amount of U-Visas that are issued every year is 10,000. While this is true, there is no limit for family members of the individual involved in the crime. This includes spouses, children, or other eligible family members. Those who maintain a U-Visa after three years of living in the United States are able to apply for Permanent Residence status.

Am I Eligible?

There are six requirements that an individual must meet in order to apply for a U-Visa:

  • Must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity
  • Must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse
  • Must be willing to provide information regarding the crime
  • Must assist in the investigation
  • The crime must have occurred in the United States or violated the country’s laws
  • The applicant is admissible to the United States under current law

Qualifying Crimes

An applicant for a U-Visa must be a victim of a qualifying crime in order to apply. Crimes that qualify for the U-Visa may include:

  • Domestic violence
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Human trafficking
  • Female genital mutilation

Making Changes to the Visa

A U-Visa is issued for four years. There are some cases that allow for the visa to be extended. This may be:

  • If it is requested by law enforcement
  • If needed for exceptional circumstances
  • If needed because of delays in consular processing
  • If it is automatically extended while filing for an adjustment of status

When an individual maintains U-Visa status for three years, they become eligible to change it. An Adjustment of Status allows individuals to apply for Permanent Resident status in the United States. If an individual is eligible, there are several items to be submitted for the adjustment. This can include:

  • Evidence of the U-Visa approval
  • A medical examination and vaccination record
  • Birth certificate
  • Copies of all passports
  • An affidavit attesting to three years of continuous physical presence in the country since being admitted the U-Visa
  • Evidence that proves at least three years of the continuous presence

Contact our Firm

If you or someone you know is looking to apply for a U-Visa, contact the Law Office of Cheryl R. David today.

The Law Offices of Cheryl R. David practices immigration law throughout NYC. If you have questions about your particular matters regarding immigration please contact the office to discuss your circumstances and options.