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How can I apply for a U-visa?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2024 | Immigration And Naturalization

The U-visa is a non-immigrant visa that benefits victims of certain crimes who have suffered psychological or physical abuse and don’t mind assisting law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.

This unique visa opportunity provides protection and benefits to those who might otherwise be hesitant to report crimes due to fear of deportation. Navigating the intricacies of U-visa application can be challenging, but understanding the basics can make a world of difference.

Eligibility criteria

Before embarking on the application process, it’s essential to understand the eligibility criteria for the U-visa. To qualify, an individual must be a victim of a qualifying criminal activity, such as:

  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Human trafficking

Moreover, applicants have to prove that they suffered substantial physical or psychological abuse as a result of the criminal activity. An applicant must also voluntarily assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the crime.

The U-visa application process

The first step is to obtain the U-visa Certification Form (Form I-918, Supplement B). This form should be completed by a law enforcement agency, prosecutor or other qualifying official to certify the applicant’s cooperation.

Once the certification form is secured, the applicant can proceed to file Form I-918, Petition for U Non-immigrant Status, along with the required supporting documentation. While there is an application fee for Form I-918, it is possible to request a fee waiver if the applicant meets certain criteria.

Moreover, applicants have the option to include qualifying family members on their petition, extending protection to eligible relatives. After submitting the petition, applicants are scheduled for a biometrics appointment, where a photograph and fingerprints are taken for background checks.

U-visa processing times can vary; applicants should be prepared for a waiting period. However, during this time, applicants are granted work authorization. Upon approval, applicants are granted U non-immigrant status, and if residing outside the U.S., they can apply for a U-visa at a U.S. consulate.

The U-visa serves as a lifeline for victims of crimes, offering protection, legal status and a path to permanent residency. Understanding this visa’s eligibility criteria and application process is essential for those seeking the benefits of this unique visa. Seeking personalized legal guidance is a good way to get started.