If you have been the victim of any type of crime that involves physical or mental abuse, you should know what the U visa is and how it could help you with your situation in the United States.
This is one of the ways to study for your case but there are others. Talk to our immigration lawyers in New Jersey so they can help you determine what types of American visas you would qualify for in the U.S. Call us so we can provide you with comprehensive advice by analyzing your situation in detail.
What Is a U Visa In The United States
The U visa is a type of non-immigrant visa granted to people who have been victims of crimes that involve physical or mental abuse. This legislation is intended to strengthen law enforcement agencies against violence, mistreatment, aggression, and crimes in general.
If you have been a victim of domestic violence or abuse, you may also be eligible for a VAWA visa.
This U visa was created in 2000 by the United States Congress in order to help victims of a crime and motivate them to lend their help to official agencies for the investigation of the crime without feeling the fear of being deported from the United States.
In the US, immigration law intersect with criminal defense quite frequently, in our section on Crimmigration you will be able to learn more about this situation.
What Are The Benefits Of Having A U Visa?
If you are granted U nonimmigrant status, you may receive certain advantages:
- Possibility of getting the Green Card and being a legal permanent resident after 3 years.
- After being a lawful permanent resident for 5 years, you may be eligible for the US citizenship process.
- Protection against deportation.
- If you are in removal proceedings, applying for the U visa would allow for a cancellation of removal.
- Possibility of including your relatives in the application.
- Obtaining Social Security Number.
- Be eligible for a work permit.
What Is Needed To Qualify For The U Visa In 2023?
You may qualify for a U visa if you meet the following requirements:
- You are the victim of a crime, including: Rape. human trafficking, torture, domestic violence, sexual or physical assault, prostitution, kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment, abduction, perjury, blackmail, slave trade, involuntary servitude, felonious assault, sexual exploitation, foreign labor fraud, forced labor, extortion, robbery, harassment or espionage.
- Being manipulated or forced to commit any crime mentioned above or crimes such as murder, manslaughter or mutilation.
- Possesses information about criminal activity: If you are under 16 years of age or unable to provide the information due to incapacity, your parent, guardian, or legal representative may provide such information on your behalf.
- You have suffered physical or mental abuse or assault.
- You are admissible in the United States. If not, you can apply for a waiver of inadmissibility with Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant .
- You assisted, are assisting, or will assist US officials in the criminal investigation or prosecution of the crime: If you are unable to offer such assistance because of a disability, your parent, guardian, or legal representative may do so on your behalf.
You should keep in mind that if you have been a victim of any of the crimes mentioned, these will not automatically qualify you for a U visa. Additionally, the crimes must have taken place in the US or these must have violated the laws in the country.
How To Apply For The U Visa?
In addition to knowing what a U visa is, it is important to know the process to apply for it. In this sense, in order to apply for the U visa in the US, you must submit the following documents:
- Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status.
- Form I-918, Supplement B, Certification of U Nonimmigrant Status.
- This form must be signed by an authorized law enforcement official who will confirm that you will contribute to the investigation of the criminal proceeding.
- Form I-192, Application for Advance Parole of Entry as a Nonimmigrant if there is an issue of inadmissibility.
- Some evidence that demonstrates each of the requirements for your eligibility.
- Personal statement describing the criminal activity that occurred.
You can also apply for the U visa if you are outside the US. To do this you must:
- Submit all documents for the U visa at the Vermont service center.
- Follow the instructions given by the Vermont service center.
- Such instructions will require your biometric data (fingerprints, photographs or signatures).
- If the petition is approved, you will need to go through consular processing to enter the US.
What Is A Derivative U Visa?
Derivative U visas are those petitions for a U visa filed by family members of the primary petitioners. USCIS will grant the following derivative U visas:
- U2 for the spouses of the victim.
- U3 for the children of the victim.
- U4 for the victim’s parents.
- U5 for unmarried brothers and sisters of the victim.
Derivative U-Visa Application For Family Members
Certain family members of yours may be eligible for a derivative U visa. You must have a pre-approved U visa application for your family members to be eligible for their own U visas.
- If you are under 20 years of age, you can petition on behalf of your children, parents, spouses, and unmarried relatives under the age of 18.
- If you are 21 years of age or older, you may apply for a U visa on behalf of your children or spouses.
To petition for a family member, you must file Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Immediate Relative of a U-1 Nonimmigrant when or after you file your petition.
You can visit our section related to U. S. family-based immigration for more information regarding the family petitions.
Employment For Main Petitioners
U visa petitioners are authorized to work in the US based on their U nonimmigrant status and submission of the Employment Authorization Document. This permit is issued automatically without the need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization .
Family members derived from the U visa petition within the US are authorized to work. However, the Employment Authorization Document will not be issued automatically.
Employment authorization documents for main petitioners and relatives can be issued only after the approval of the U nonimmigrant petition.
What Is The Difference Between The T And The U Visa?
The U visa is very similar to the T visa in the sense that both were created to help victims of certain serious crimes. However, they must be specific crimes for people to qualify for U or T visas. Among their differences we find the following:
- The T visa is focused on human trafficking and there are 3 parts that involve a person in this visa:
- How was the victim brought to the US in relation to their:
- How the victim was controlled, if there were:
- What was the goal, including:
- Obligations to sexual acts.
- Labor abuse.
- Forced labour.
- Involuntary servitude.
- How was the victim brought to the US in relation to their:
- To be eligible for a T visa, at least one crime from each category must be proven.
- In order to qualify for a T visa, the applicant must have been trafficked to the US unlike the U visa where a person could have visited the country for various reasons and then become a victim of some crime.
- People who apply for a U visa must cooperate with the officers in support of the offenses or crimes that occurred.
- In some cases, T visa petitioners may also cooperate but this is less often than U nonimmigrant status petitioners.
This is only a brief general summary of the T visa. If you want to know in depth the T visa requirements, do not hesitate to review our detailed article. Additionally, do not hesitate to call us also to let us know your situation. We have 10 years of expertise in cases related to this type of U. S visa.
What Happens If I Qualify For The U Visa And The T Visa At The Same Time?
A person can qualify without any problem for both types of visas. However, it is recommended to choose the visa that offers the best chance of approval. Generally, the strongest and more solid cases are usually the ones that get an approval.
Other Options For Victims In The US
There are other alternatives to the U visa and the T visa in the US for all those applicants who have been the victim of a crime, violence or their health is at stake. These options are:
- Political asylum in the United States.
- NACARA program.
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
Frequently Asked Questions About The U Visa
Curbelo Law is a very conscientious and experienced firm in these types of cases that involve violence or certain crimes. Led by attorney Carolina T. Curbelo, the firm fights daily for justice in cases as delicate as these. Below you will find some frequently asked questions, but remember to take this as general information. In immigration law, it is key to know the circumstances and events that occurred behind each case, so do not hesitate to contact us.
How Long Does The U Visa Last?
If you are granted a U visa, your U nonimmigrant status will be valid for 4 years. However, there are certain extensions of the U visa as long as it is necessary for:
- Consular processing delays.
- Request from an authorized law enforcement agency.
- Exceptional circumstances.
- Extended as a consequence of a submission or application for an adjustment of status in the United States.
What Is The Cost Of a U Visa?
- All U visa applications are free and must be filed at the USCIS Service Center in Vermont.
- Other forms in addition to the U visa may have a cost. You may request a fee waiver by filing Form I-912, Application for Fee Waiver .
- Please note that if you are required to file Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Relative of a U-1 Nonimmigrant, there will be a fee and it must be submitted to USCIS in Vermont.
Can Citizenship Be Obtained With A U Visa?
The U visa will only be valid for no more than 4 years. However, it can be extended in very limited situations with the support of a certified agency. There are circumstances where a person with a U visa can adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
After 5 years of being a resident, you will be able to apply for US citizenship. As long as you meet all possible requirements for this process.
You may be interested in reviewing our section dedicated to mistakes when filling the N-400 naturalization application.
Is There A Maximum Number Of Applications For U Visas?
- The annual limit on the number of U visas for main petitioners is only 10,000. However, there is no maximum amount for family members derived from this visa.
- In the event that the maximum amount is reached before being awarded, regarding all petitions for U visas, USCIS will create a waiting list for the final decision on these visas.
- Applicants on the waiting list will be granted deferred action or parole and may apply for employment authorization while waiting for their U visa.
- Petitioners on the waiting list will be notified that they will receive their U visa depending on the order in which these were applied for.
How Can You Apply For A Green Card With A U Visa?
Applicants for a U visa can apply for a Green Card if:
- They Have been physically present in the US for a period of 3 years with their current U nonimmigrant status.
- The applicant has not refused to cooperate with officials at any time since obtaining their U visa.
How Do I Prove That I Am A Victim Of A Crime?
You must provide detailed information about the actions that occurred. Other people who know what you experienced as a victim may be able to act as witnesses. Witnesses may submit written statements.
Additionally, you can submit police reports, medical records, or any other evidence that may be helpful.
What Is The Difference Between A Direct And An Indirect Victim?
A direct victim is a person who suffered a crime and may be a U nonimmigrant applicant.
Indirect victims are those who are not direct victims of a crime but are related to or affected by crimes that occurred to their close family members. To qualify as an indirect victim, the direct victim must be:
- Deceased due to murder or manslaughter.
- Incapacitated or unable to assist in the investigation.
Close family members who may qualify as indirect victims are:
- The spouse of the direct victim.
- Unmarried sons and daughters under the age of 21 of the victim.
- Parents and siblings under 18 years of age if the direct victim is under 21 years of age.
Indirect victims do not need to prove that they suffered a crime, however, they do need to prove the following requirements:
- They have information about the crime.
- They were, are, or may be useful in the criminal investigation or trial.
- They suffered some physical or mental harm as a result of the crime.
- Are admissible or have USCIS waive any grounds of inadmissibility.
Indirect victims must file Form I-918 under their own name.
If My US Citizen Son Is The Victim Of A Crime, Can I, Being His Father, Qualify Without Legal Documents?
If you do not have legal documents and your US citizen child was the victim of some type of crime, you can apply for a U visa as an indirect victim even if you are undocumented.
You can visit our section dedicated to if U. S. citizen petition for parents to learn how you can petition to bring your parents to the US.
What Are The Limitations Of The U Visa?
- It’s temporary. The U visa is only valid for 4 years and is non-renewable although it can be extended in very limited situations.
- It has a limit. There are only 10,000 U visas issued annually.
- Travel abroad is not recommended. Applicants may risk not re-entering the country if they leave the United States.
- Criminal records can complicate the U visa.
Immigration Lawyers In New Jersey For A U Visa
Both U and T visa cases are usually complex since each personal circumstance is different. Now you know what a U visa is and in order to understand the situation you are going through, the best recommendation we can give you is to seek an experienced immigration lawyer for these cases.
The process requires specific documents and evidence in order to be eligible, otherwise it will be very difficult for you to obtain a visa on your own. As we have mentioned, due to the complexity of these cases, it is best to have professional advice.
At Curbelo Law we have more than 10 years of experience in immigration matters, speak with our team of Latino professionals in Spanish or English today.