If you are a victim of certain types of crimes, you may be eligible for a “U” nonimmigrant visa. U-Visas were created by Congress in 2000 for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and have cooperated with law enforcement or government officials. The U-Visa allows victims of crime to assist the government or law enforcement in prosecuting crimes without fear of negative immigration consequences such as deportation.
U-Visa Eligibility Requirements
You may be eligible for the U-Visa if the crime occurred in the United States:
- You are a victim of “qualifying criminal activity.” Qualifying Crimes include:
i. Domestic Violence
ii. Felonious Assault
vi. Obstruction of Justice
ix. Trafficking, and others
- You suffered physical and/or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity.
- You have information about the criminal activity.
- You were helpful, are helpful, or likely to be helpful to law enforcement or government officials in investigation or prosecution of the crime. Note that it does not matter whether the perpetrator of the crime was convicted of the crime, as long as you have assisted in the investigation.
Additionally, you should be admissible to the United States. But if you are not, there is a generous waiver available, through applying for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.
What Kind of Evidence is Needed to Apply for the U-Visa
To receive a U-Visa, it is important to document the mental and/or physical abuse you experienced as a result of being a victim of a crime. In addition to a declaration describing what occurred and what impact the crime had on you, it is important to provide documentary evidence of any physical abuse, such as pictures, a report from the physician that treated you, or a psychological assessment describing the impact of the mental abuse. Our office can assist you in obtaining these additional documents.
It is also necessary to obtain a certification request from law enforcement or a government agency. This is done by submitting Form I–918 Supplement B to the relevant agency. However, it is important to submit that form along with any supporting documentation to ensure that you can obtain the certification. You would submit this supplement along with Form I-918.
Waiver of Most Grounds of Inadmissibility
One advantage of the U-Visa as compared to other types of visas or lawful permanent residency is that a waiver of most grounds of inadmissibility is available. This is done by filing Form I–192 with a $585 fee, or a fee waiver request if you cannot afford the fee. It is important to submit a letter or declaration describing how you meet the waiver requirements, which generally should address why it would be in the national or public interest to grant the waiver.
The first step to obtaining the U-Visa is to determine if you are eligible. The next step is to prepare your application, which can involve many steps. Our office is experienced in handling U-Visas — contact us if you would like to know if you are eligible for a U-Visa.