The U non-immigrant status (U visa) was created for foreign nationals who are the victims of serious crimes that have occurred in the United States. The U visa is available to victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
The U visas allow foreign national victims to remain in the U.S. and gain employment authorization during their stay. The USCIS grants 10,000 U visas per year.
- The foreign national should have been a victim of one of the qualifying crimes.
- The victim should have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of one of the above crimes;
- The victim should have useful information concerning the crime that occurred;
- The victim has helped, or should be ready to help, in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and,
- The crime committed against the victim should have violated the laws of the United States or should have occurred in the United States.
The First Step: Filing the Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification
- Prior to filing a U visa application, a foreign national victim must obtain a certification from federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, or a prosecutor, judge or other authority, which is responsible for the investigation or prosecution of the crime. A U visa application will not be accepted without this certification.
The Second Step: Applying for a U Nonimmigrant Status
- After the certified Form I-918, Supplement B is received a foreign national has 6 months to file the U visa application with appropriate supporting documentation with USCIS.
Fees to File U Nonimmigrant Status Application
- All U nonimmigrant status applications are filed with the USCIS Vermont Service Center and U nonimmigrant status applications are free. You may request a fee waiver for any other form that is necessary for your U nonimmigrant status application
- When U nonimmigrant status is granted, it is valid for four years;
- After three years as an immigrant with U visa status you may be eligible to apply for a Green Card if you meet certain requirements;
- If a U nonimmigrant status is granted, you are automatically granted employment eligibility;
- Certain qualifying family members are eligible for a derivative U visa based on their relationship to you, the principal, filing for the U visa. The principal petitioner must have their petition for a U visa approved before their family members can be eligible for their own derivative U visa. If the U visa applicant is less than 21 years old, the U visa applicant can file for their spouse, children, unmarried siblings under 18, and their parents. If the U visa applicant is 21 years or older, the applicant can file for their spouse and their children.
To learn more about your options contact our San Francisco law firm to speak with one of our immigration attorneys.