U Visas for Victims of Crime
In October 2000, the U.S. Congress passed a law creating a new temporary status called the U nonimmigrant status (commonly called the U visa) for certain crime victims. If you are in the United States without legal status and have been the victim of a crime, you may be eligible for a temporary legal status and, eventually, lawful permanent resident status.
Who is eligible for a U visa?
Victims of certain crimes listed in the law are eligible for a U visa if (1) they have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of being a crime victim; (2) they have information about the crime; and (3) they are, have been or will be helpful to law enforcement authorities investigating or prosecuting the crime. The law lists 28 separate crimes, including domestic violence, rape, abusive sexual contact, abduction and blackmail, and felony assault. The law also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the crimes included under the U visa law.
Crimes that may qualify you for the U visa:
- 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
What are the benefits of a U Visa? Can my family benefit too?
Approved U visa applicants will receive 4 years of temporary legal status and permission to work. At the end of this period, most people with U visa status will be able to apply for lawful permanent resident status. The spouse and children of a U visa applicant, and the parent, if the U visa applicant is under age 16, may qualify for U visa status as well if they meet other requirements in the law.
Individuals who do not qualify to for a U visa may still be eligible to gain legal immigration status under other provisions of the immigration laws.