If you believe you qualify for a U Visa, please don’t try to obtain it without the help of a concerned attorney. Due to the nature of a U Visa, and the fact that it involves a crime, your situation is especially delicate and requires the touch of an experienced immigration attorney.
At Nuñez & Associates, our compassionate attorneys want to protect your rights and privacy as well as help fight for justice. We understand the emotional aspect of applying for a U Visa and we’ll make the process as easy on you as possible. From filing the application to facilitating communication with law enforcement, we’ll walk you through this process so you can be on your way towards healing.
U Visa Overview
Immigrants who are victims of certain heinous crimes and who can provide information to law enforcement leading to the apprehension of the perpetrators of these crimes may be eligible for the U Visa. This visa confers temporary legal or nonimmigrant status that protects the bearer from removal proceedings for four years, though it does not grant any benefit that can lead to permanent residency or citizenship status. Once granted, however, the recipient is given an EAD (employment authorization document) that is valid for four years.
Only 10,000 U visas are granted each year, not including those for immediate family members who obtained the visa.
Immigrants who have been victims of certain crimes can apply for the visa on Form I-918. According to the USCIS, the applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse in any of the following situations:
- Domestic violence
- Felonious assault
- Sexual assault
- Female genital mutilation
- False imprisonment
- Slavery or involuntary servitude
- Human trafficking
- Prostitution or sex trade
- Witness tampering
- Any other horrendous crime that involves a substantial degree of physical or mental cruelty
These offenses must have occurred in the U.S., an American territory or constitute a violation of U.S. law.
Assistance to Law Enforcement
Being a victim of any of these offenses does not automatically render the individual eligible to apply for nonimmigrant status. Victims must be able to demonstrate how they can assist law enforcement in the investigation and arrest of those responsible for these crimes. The victims also must willing to cooperate.
Victims can apply for the U Visa on Form I-918. The applicant must secure the certification of a federal or state judge in charge of the investigation of the crime for which the applicant was victimized; or from the head of a local, state or federal law enforcement agency investigating the crime or activity and with the authority to issue such certifications.
Derivative family members residing abroad are eligible for an EAD but must apply using Form I-765 and only after the person who applied for the U Visa has obtained it.