U Visas are for nonimmigrant individuals who have experienced or are currently experiencing mental or physical abuse. To be eligible for a U Visa, individuals must satisfy the requirements of U nonimmigrant status and be victims of specific crimes.

If you are a victim, the guidance of a U Visa lawyer can prove invaluable. Our U Visa attorneys have the experience and training to help you cope with the emotional and traumatizing consequences associated with surviving violence, abuse, or criminal activity.

What Is a U Visa?

If a foreign national has suffered from certain kinds of abuse, they might be able to get a U Nonimmigrant Visa. Congress created the U Visa in October 2000 to encourage victims of serious crimes to come forward and report the offenses.

The U Nonimmigrant Visa aims to make it safer for victims to seek help from law enforcement. By encouraging survivors to come forward and share their experiences, police officials will have a better chance to conduct investigations and build strong cases against criminals.

If the U Visa application is approved, victims receive several benefits. These include temporary immigration status for qualifying family members, permission to work, and the possibility of eventually becoming lawful permanent residents.

U Visa Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a U Nonimmigrant Visa, you need to meet certain criteria, including:

  • You have experienced criminal activities that USCIS recognizes as qualifying
  • The crime you went through caused you substantial mental or mental harm
  • Unless you are under 16, you can provide information about the crime yourself
  • If you’re younger than 16, a trusted person can report it on your behalf
  • The crime you endured happened in the United States or broke U.S. laws
  • You can help police with investigating or prosecuting the crime, confirmed through a Law Enforcement Certification
  • You meet the requirements to be admitted into the United States

What Crimes Qualify?

Here are some of the crimes that may make you eligible for a U Visa:

  • Extortion
  • Torture
  • Stocking
  • Slave trade
  • Sexual exploitation and assault
  • Prostitution or rape
  • Perjury
  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Kidnapping, being held hostage, or involuntary servitude
  • Abduction
  • False imprisonment
  • Domestic violence
  • Abusive sexual conduct

Can I File for Family Members Too?

Specific family members may be entitled to U Visas under specific circumstances. These family members include:

  • Parents through a U-4 Visa
  • Spouses through a U-2 Visa
  • Children through a U-3 Visa

U Visa Application Process, Fees and Processing Time

To petition for a U Nonimmigrant Visa, follow these steps:

  • Fill out Form I-918, Petition for U nonimmigrant status
  • Make sure to have the authorized service sign off on the supplement B portion of the form, confirming your assistance to the U.S. government

It is not necessary for your abuser to be convicted for this form to be signed.

The application process for U Visa victims is free of charge, but there may be fees for filing certain forms. You can request a fee waiver by submitting a written request or Form I-912.

Once you submit your application, USCIS will process it. However, be prepared for a lengthy processing time, which can take 12 to 18 months or even longer if additional evidence is required.

What Happens after a U Visa Is Approved?

Once your Visa becomes available, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review your file to ensure you meet all the eligibility requirements. If it is determined that you are indeed eligible, your petition for U nonimmigrant status will be officially approved.

How Long Is a U Visa Valid?

Once your U Visa petition is approved and officially marked in your passport, it remains valid for a maximum of four years. Throughout this period, you can reside and work in the United States as a nonimmigrant.

As your Visa’s expiration date approaches, you have the option to seek an extension through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To initiate the extension process, you must submit Form I-539, the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.

Get Help from Our Experienced U Visa Attorneys Today

Are you a victim of a crime, struggling with the aftermath of abuse? Don’t suffer in silence. The U Visa can be your key to protection and a fresh start. Don’t let the fear of deportation or detainment keep you from seeking justice. The U Visa was created to provide a safe path for victims to come forward and assist law enforcement in prosecuting criminals.

Contact the American Immigration Law Group and take the first steps towards reclaiming your life. Together, we can pursue justice and build a brighter future. Fill out our online contact form or call our office at 314-416-8000 to start working on your U Visa application as soon as today.