The U-Visa program, also referred to as U nonimmigrant status, is available for victims of certain criminal activity.
Victims seeking U-Visas must petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and meet all of the eligibility requirements.
What are the eligibility requirements?
Victims of certain crimes may apply for U-Visas if they suffered substantial mental or physical harm, have information about the crime and are helpful to the investigation of the crime. Additionally, the criminal activity the victim suffered must have occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws.
What types of criminal activity qualify?
To qualify for the U-Visa program, a victim must have suffered a particularly heinous crime. Qualifying criminal activities include rape, abduction, extortion, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, torture and trafficking. The full list of qualifying crimes is available through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
How do you apply?
In addition to an official petition for U nonimmigrant status, each applicant must file a certified supplement signed by an official from the law enforcement agency investigating the crime they suffered. Law enforcement must verify that the victim has helped or will help with the investigation or prosecution in the future. Each applicant must provide a personal statement describing the crime and how they suffered. They must also provide evidence that they meet the eligibility requirements.
The application is the first step in a process that will take several years. If approved, the U-Visas last for four years. However, extensions are available in certain circumstances, including if your assistance is still needed by law enforcement.