What is a U Visa and Who Qualifies?

  • A U visa allows victims of certain qualifying criminal activity to reside and work in the United States lawfully. This classification was created in the interest of assisting law enforcement and for humanitarian purposes. The Eligibility is met when
  • i) the person was a victim,
  • ii) of qualifying criminal activity in the United States,
  • iii) who suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity,
  • iv) and possesses credible and reliable information concerning the criminal activity,
  • v) and has been helpful or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement.

The term “victim” does not have to be the direct victim of the crime. For example, the direct victim was murdered, then the spouse or children under 21 years of age are considered victims that are eligible to apply for a U visa. Also, if the direct victim was a child under 21 years of age, the parents and siblings under the age of 18 are considered victims that are eligible to apply for a U visa.

“Qualifying criminal activity” is defined by statute, and includes crimes such as murder, torture, blackmail, and witness tampering. There are nearly 30 crimes enumerated.

“Substantial physical or mental abuse” as a result of the criminal activity is based on a totality of circumstances, including the nature of the injury suffered, the duration of the infliction of the harm, the permanence of the harm injury, and the physical and mental soundness of the victim.

Possession of credible and reliable information and helpfulness to law enforcement may be established by police certifications and declarations.

When can I Obtain a U Visa?

While those who entered unlawfully or are out of status are free to apply for a U Visa any time of the year, there is a 10,000 visa cap. Up to 10,000 U visas are issued each year. Once the cap is reached, victims requesting U visas will be placed on a wait list and will be issued deferred action, meaning that victims will at least be no longer eligible for deportation while the petition is pending.

What Benefits does the U Visa Provide?

There are many benefits that come with obtaining a U Visa. At the time the petition is approved, you will be authorized for employment, and USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document as evidence. Derivative family members of the victim also receive employment authorization, but will have to apply for the Document for a fee. The most important benefit is that the U Visa may independently file for a green card through adjustment of status after being physically present in the US for 3 years since the U visa was granted.

What is the Attorney’s Role in a U Petition?

A U visa petition requires submission of reasonably substantial documentation and to establish specific legal elements with particularity. It is often necessary to coordinate efforts with law enforcement and mental health professionals to obtain documentation which will effectively meet the relevant legal elements. Preparation of an effective U visa petition generally requires the assistance of a considerate advocate with experience working with victims of trauma. A past record of success in U visa petitions is invaluable.

How Much Does it Cost to File a U Petition?

There are non-profit organizations which assist victims of crimes to obtain U visas, however, these organizations generally have limited resources and place those who are seeking assistance on wait lists. If such a wait is unacceptable, our law firm can begin to assist you immediately. Please contact us for our fee schedule.

Contact Us

To discuss U visa petitions and other alternatives with an experienced immigration lawyer from the Shah Peerally Law Group, feel free to contact us by email or call us at 510-742-5887.


Click the following link for our fee schedule — > Attorney Fees

U-Visa Testimonial

“I was the victim of a crime. after a year of the incident a friend informed me that I could qualify for a visa. so I researched online about my case. contacted some lawyers and asked about their rates, the best rate I found was Shah. So I gave him a Call and set up an appointment, when I arrived to the Peerally Law Offices I was surprized on how professional all his staff were. I was directed to staff member he made me feel comfortable and open about my situation. he was very respectful, professional, trustworthy and comprehensive. he found the best way to approach my case and also imformed me that since I was still 19 at the time. my parents also qualified for a U-Visa status. I was very happy to hear that ,and my parents as well. so we got to do all the paper work and no longer than 5-6 months after applying I had my U-visa Status & Work permit. both of my parent Have their U-visa Status Now. We’re just waiting for the work permits for them. We are so greatfull to have found Shah And reffer him to all of our friends and Family when they have Immigration problems and questions. he Is very professional and extremely reliable. Dont hesitate to contact him, Im pretty sure he will take care of your case. – Hugo M.

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