U Visa was specifically designed for Victims of Crime in the United States. This visa protects victims of crime by issuing them legal status in the US if they meet certain requirements.
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” Victims of crime” as The Department of Homeland Security (DHL) sees it, may include both direct and indirect victims of certain crimes in the US. Direct victims suffer the damage of a crime first-hand, whereas indirect victims may include family members of the direct Victims of crime.
Let’s take a closer look at the U Visa for Victims of Crime.
What is U Visa
U Visa is a US non-immigrant visa issued to Victims of Crime in the US, who have suffered severe mental or physical abuse. The victims must be willing to help law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting the criminals. The U Visa is similar to the T Visa for victims of Trafficking.
The United States Congress introduced the U Visa in 2000 by passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA).
VTVPA was passed for these reasons:
- To protect Victims of crime who are willing to help law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of culprits.
- To increase the ability of Law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of certain crimes like sexual assault, domestic violence, murder, etc.
What Crime Qualifies a Victim for U Visa
Under the VTVPA, Victims of the following criminal cases are eligible for the U Visa.
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault
- Human trafficking
- False imprisonment
- Female genital mutilation
- Felonious assault
- Fraud in foreign labor contracting
- Involuntary servitude
- Obstruction of justice
- Sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation
- Slave trade
- Witness tampering
- Unlawful criminal restraint
- Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of any of the listed criminal activities
What Are the Requirements for U Visa?
To qualify for U Visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have been a victim of any of the crimes aforementioned.
- You must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse from the criminal activity.
- The qualifying crime must have happened in the United States or violated US laws.
- You must be admissible to the United States. However, persons that are inadmissible may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to enter as a Nonimmigrant.
- You were helpful or are helpful or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement agencies in investigating or persecuting the culprits.
- You have agreed to comply with the law enforcement agency to investigate and prosecute the culprits. However, If your next friend, parent or guardian have the information, they may help law enforcement on your behalf if:
- You’re a child under 16 years.
- You have suffered severe physical or mental trauma from your experience.
- You’re disable and unable to communicate effectively.
You may need an experienced immigration attorney to help assess your eligibility for the U visa. Immigly.com can help you find the best attorney for this purpose.
Benefits of the U Visa
Victims of Crimes with this visa, enjoy the following benefits:
- They are permitted to do any legal job in the US.
- They are eligible to open US bank account
- They can get a driver’s license.
- They can study in the US.
- They are permitted to bring their immediate family members with them to the US.
- They can apply for a green card after 3 years.
What Should I Do If I’m A Victim of Crime in the US
If you’re a victim of any of the qualifying crimes, or you know someone who’s a victim, the first thing you should do is seek help from law enforcement agencies in the US. You can call the US toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to seek help.
How To Apply for U Visa
To apply for this visa, you are required to follow these steps:
Complete Form DS-160
Fill the Form DS-160 with your personal information and other information needed for the U Visa Application
Ensure you print out the Form DS-160 confirmation page after completing the form. If you need help filling the Form DS-160, you can contact a trusted third-party immigration expert like immigly.com.
Compile the Required Documents
If you’re applying from the US, you’re required to compile the following documents and send them to USCIS.
- Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status.
- Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. This document proves that the victim of crime is helpful or will be helpful in prosecuting and investigating the culprits
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- A photograph in accordance with the US photo requirements
- A statement stating the crime you are a Victim of.
- Police and court records proving you are a victim of the crime.
- A doctor’s report proving that you have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse directly from the crime.
- Your Valid Passport.
- If you’re not admissible to the US, you must file Form I-192.
Applying for U Visa Outside the US
If you’re applying for a U visa from outside the US, you are required to take these steps:
- Submit all the required documents listed above to the Vermont service center closest to you.
- Schedule your visa interview with the US Embassy convenient for you.
- Go for your visa interview.
How Long Does It Take To Process U Visa
The Processing time for a U visa may vary from person to person. Generally, it could take approximately 18 months to process a U Visa.
Can I Bring My Family Members With U Visa
Immediate family members of U visa holders may accompany them to the US. The immediate family members may include spouses, parents, unmarried children, and siblings of this visa holder.
The following Visas are issued to the family members of a U visa holder
- U-2 visa is issued to the spouse of this holder.
- U-3 visa is issued to children of this holder
- U-4 visa is issued to the parents of this visa holder, if the visa holder is below 21 years old and unmarried.
- U-5 visa is issued to unmarried siblings of the visa holders below 18 years old, if the U Visa holder is below 21 years old and unmarried.
How Long Can I Stay in the US with U Visa
This visa is valid for 4 years, after which the visa holder is expected to leave the US. However, the U Visa can be extended if law enforcement verifies that the victim of crime needs to stay longer in the US. The extension is done by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend Nonimmigrant Status.
Can I Apply for Permanent Residence with U Visa
Yes, after 3 years, a U Visa holder becomes eligible to apply for permanent residence in the US.
If you have questions about the U Visa, kindly write to us in the comments section below.