What is U Visa? How it can help me?

U nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to victims of qualifying crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. The U visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

  • » You can legally live in the United States for four years.
  • » With a U-Visa you can get permission to work in the United States.
  • » Some of your family members might also be able to get a U-Visa.
  • » Qualified recipients may apply to adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident (green card) after three years of continuous presence in the U.S. while having a U visa. The petitioner will have to meet other eligibility requirements for a green card as well, including the ongoing duty to cooperate with law enforcement and not unreasonably refuse to assist with the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying crime.

Eligibility to apply for U Visa –

You may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if:

  • » You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
  • » You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
  • » You have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on your behalf.
  • » You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf.
  • » The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
  • » You are admissible to the United States. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, application for advance permission to enter as a Nonimmigrant.

What Constitutes a Qualifying Crime?

To be eligible for a U-Visa, you must have been the victim of one of the crimes listed below

  • » Abduction
  • » Abusive Sexual Contact Blackmail
  • » Domestic Violence Extortion
  • » False Imprisonment Felonious Assault
  • » Female Genital Mutilation
  • » Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
  • » Hostage
  • » Incest
  • » Involuntary Servitude
  • » Kidnapping
  • » Manslaughter
  • » Murder
  • » Obstruction of Justice
  • » Peonage
  • » Perjury
  • » Prostitution
  • » Rape
  • » Sexual Assault
  • » Sexual Exploitation
  • » Slave Trade
  • » Stalking
  • » Torture
  • » Trafficking
  • » Witness Tampering
  • » Unlawful Criminal Restraint

Other Related Crimes*†

*Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.

†Also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes.



What do you mean by “helpful in investigation”?

  • » Helpfulness means the victim was, is, or is likely to be assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity of which he or she is a victim.
  • » This includes being helpful and providing assistance when reasonably requested. This also includes an ongoing responsibility on the part of the victim to be helpful. Those who unreasonably refuse to assist after |reporting a crime will not be eligible for a U visa.
  • » The duty to remain helpful to law enforcement remains even after a U visa is granted, and those victims who unreasonably refuse to provide assistance after the U visa has been granted may have the visa revoked by USCIS. Law enforcement agencies should contact and inform USCIS of the victim’s unreasonable refusal to provide assistance in the investigation or prosecution should this occur.
  • » A current investigation, the filing of charges, a prosecution or conviction are not required to sign the law enforcement certification.
  • » There is no statute of limitations on signing the law enforcement certification. A law enforcement certification can even be submitted for a victim in a closed case.

How to apply for U Visa?

  • » Obtain a Supp-B from law enforcement saying that you were helpful. (Form 918B- law enforcement agency’s certification)
  • » Complete the U-Visa Application, Form I-918.
  • » Complete the Waiver Application, Form I-192, if necessary. (If you are not admissible to US, you may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, application for advance permission to enter as a Nonimmigrant.)
  • » Write your Personal Statement.
  • » Try to obtain additional documents to support your case.
  • » Put your application and supporting documents together.
  • » Mail your application to the USCIS.

Can I apply for U visa, if I am outside the US?

You may also apply (petition) for U nonimmigrant status if you are outside the United States. To do this, you must:

  • » File all the necessary forms for U nonimmigrant status with the Vermont Service Center.
  • » Follow all instructions that are sent from the Vermont Service Center, which will include having your fingerprints taken at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • » If your petition is approved, you must consular process to enter the United States, which will include an interview with a consular officer at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • » Information about your nearest United States Embassy or Consulate can be found atwww.usembassy.gov.

What is Law Enforcement Agency’s certification (Form I-918B)?

  • » Before making an application to USCIS, applicants for U visas are required to submit a law enforcement agency’s certification (Form I 918-Supplement B) that they are victims of a qualifying crime who meet the requirements for helpfulness in the investigation or prosecution of that crime.
  • » Form I-918B is a required piece of evidence to confirm to USCIS that a qualifying crime has occurred and that the victim was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The law enforcement certification validates the role the victim had, has, or will have in being helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the case.
  • » A U-visa application submitted without a law enforcement certification will not be considered complete. Without a certification, the U visa will be denied.

Who may sign a law enforcement certification for a U visa?

Certifying agencies include all authorities responsible for the investigation, prosecution, conviction or sentencing of the qualifying criminal activity, including but not limited to: Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies;

  • » Federal, State and Local prosecutors’ offices;
  • » Federal, State and Local Judges;
  • » Federal, State, and Local Family Protective Services;
  • » Equal Employment Opportunity Commission;
  • » Federal and State Departments of Labor; and
  • » Other investigative agencies

What are the filing fees for U Visa?

  • » U nonimmigrant status applications (petitions) are free.
  • » You may request a fee waiver for any other form that is necessary for your U nonimmigrant status application (petition) by filing a Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or by including your own written request for a fee waiver with your application or petition.

Can I apply for U Visa Extensions

When U nonimmigrant status is granted, it is valid for four years. However, extensions are available in certain, limited circumstances if the extension is:

  • » Needed based on a request from law enforcement,
  • » Needed based on exceptional circumstances,
  • » Needed due to delays in consular processing, or
  • » Automatically extended upon the filing and pendency of an application for adjustment (application for a Green Card).

Can I file U visa petition for my family members?

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 principle petitioner is under 21 years of age, then he/she may petition on behalf of his/her spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings under age 18
  • » If the principle petitioner is 21 years of age or older, he/she may petition on behalf of his/her spouse and children.
  • » To petition for a qualified family member, you must file a Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient, at the same time as your application or at a later time.

Can I Apply for a Green Card?

You may be eligible to apply for a Green Card (adjustment of status/permanent residence) if you meet certain requirements, including:

  • » You have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years while in U nonimmigrant status, and
  • » You have not unreasonably refused to provide assistance to law enforcement since you received your U visa.

Sources –

Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status, available at https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status

Getting a U Visa: Immigration help for victims of crime, ILRC, available at,


U Visa Law Enforcement Certification Resource Guide for Federal, State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Law Enforcement, available at, https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/dhs_u_visa_certification_guide.pdf

USCIS INFORMATION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS Immigration Relief for Victims of Human Trafficking and Other Crimes, available at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Humanitarian%20Based%20Benefits%20and%20Resources/TU_QAforLawEnforcement.pdf