In 2020, the US Congress added U visas as a category of nonimmigrant status visas. About 10,000 U visas are set aside each year. The purpose of creating the U visa was to provide humanitarian relief for victims of certain criminal activity by giving temporary residency status in the US for victims. Congress created the U visa set-aside specifically to address domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, but victims of many other crimes are eligible to receive U visas. Eligibility requirements are described listed below. Those seeking a U visa must submit a Form I-918 (Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status). Since being "helpful" to law enforcement is a requirement, applicants will also need a certification from a law enforcement agency (Form I-918B). Once approved, a U visa holder can apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
The US Citizenship and Immigration Service provides the following list of criminal activities that will qualify a victim for U visa status:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- 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
- Other crimes where the elements of the crime are substantially similar
Note that, for each crime listed, a victim is eligible to apply for a U visa if they have suffered an attempt to commit the crime, if there was a conspiracy to commit the crime or if there was a solicitation to commit the crime. Note further that, generally, the crime must have been committed in the US.
It is not enough that a person be a victim of one of the above-listed crimes. There are several other eligibility requirements. To be eligible for a U visa, the applicant must:
- Be the victim of one of the listed crimes
- Have suffered "substantial physical or mental abuse" caused by being the victim of one of the listed crimes
- Have been "helpful" to law enforcement or governmental officials who are investigating or prosecuting the crime – "helpful" means having information about the crime and providing information or testimony or evidence to law enforcement about the crime
- Meet the other requirements for admissibility to the US
U Visas for Family Members
U visas are also available for close family members of a victim of one of the above-listed crimes. For crime victims over the age of 21, eligible family members include spouses and minor children. For crime victims under the age of 21, eligible family members include parents, siblings under the age of 18, spouses, and children.
Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today
For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.