The U visa is a visa which is available to victims of crimes (and their immediate family members) who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to cooperate or have cooperated with law enforcement and government officials in the investigating and/or prosecuting the crime to which they were the victim. In order to qualify for a U visa, the following criteria must be met:
- The victim has suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the commission of specific criminal activity
- The victim has information about the criminal activity from which he or she has suffered the substantial mental or physical abuse
- The victim has been helpful to law enforcement or government officials in investigating or prosecuting the criminal activity
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated United States laws
- The victim is admissible to the United States (if the victim is inadmissible, they may be eligible to apply for a waiver of the specific ground of inadmissibility).
U visas may be available to victims of the following crimes (this includes an attempt to commit one of these crimes or a conspiracy or solicitation to commit one of these crimes):
- Abusive sexual contact
- Domestic violence
- False imprisonment
- Female genital mutilation
- Felonious assault
- Fraud in foreign labor contracting
- Hostage taking
- Involuntary servitude
- Obstruction of justice
- Sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation
- Slave trade
- Witness tampering
- Unlawful criminal restraint
- Other related crimes (where the elements of the crime are substantially similar to the elements of a crime listed above).
It is important to understand that the U visa is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning it does not confer the right to live in the United States indefinitely. The U V visa is not a green card nor does it grant you U.S. Citizenship. If granted, the U visa is valid for four years. At the expiration of that four-year period, it may be possible for the U visa holder to extend the U visa in limited circumstances, including if law enforcement still requires the U visa holder’s assistance, if there are delays in consular processing, or if there are other exceptional circumstances.
Applying for Green Cards: U visa holders and certain relatives of a U visa holders, including spouses, children, parents, or siblings, may also be eligible to receive their green cards based on the U visa holder’s application. In order to qualify for the Green Card, the U visa holder must meet the following criteria:
- They have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years while maintaining U visa status
- They have not unreasonably refused to provide assistance to law enforcement since receiving their U visa
- Their presence in the United States is justifiable on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or their presence is in the public interest
- They merit a favorable exercise of discretion (factors such as family ties in the United States, hardship, and the length of a U visa holder’s stay in the United States may merit a favorable exercise of discretion).
Call us at 717-836-0471 to determine whether or not you and your family member may be eligible to qualify for a U Visa. You may also submit an email request with a brief explanation of your circumstances. Our staff professional will respond as soon as possible.