U Visas

Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status

 

The U visa is intended for victims of violent crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The intention of U Visa availability is to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial or mental abuse due to crime and are willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.

Individuals may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if:

  • 1) they are a victim of qualifying criminal activity,
  • 2) they have suffered significant physical or mental abuse resulting from having been a victim of a crime,
  • 3) they have information about the criminal activity. If the individual is under the age of 16 or is not able to provide information because of disability, a parent or guardian or friend may hold the information about the crime on the applicant’s behalf,
  • 4) the crime occurred in the United States or violated United States laws,
  • 5) they are admissible in the United States. If the individual is not admissible, they may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192.

 

Criminal activities that can qualify an individual for U visa status include: abduction, abusive sexual contact, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, female genital mutilation, felonious assault, fraud in foreign labor contracting, hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, proposition, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, slave trade, stalking, torture, trafficking, witness tampering, unlawful criminal restraint, other related crimes.

In an application for a U Visa, one must submit: Form I-918 Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, Form I-198 Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. The Supplement B form must be signed by and authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency and the official must confirm that the applicant was helpful at the time, and is still currently helpful, or will likely be helpful in the future in the investigation or prosecution of the case. If there are any inadmissible issues that are present, the applicant must file a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant to request a waiver of the inadmissibility. The applicant must also submit a personal statement describing the criminal activity of which the applicant was a victim as well as evidence to prove each requirement of eligibility.

An applicant who is outside the United States and wishes to apply for U nonimmigrant status must:

  • 1) File all required forms for U nonimmigrant status with the Vermont Service Center,
  • 2) Strictly follow the instructions that are sent from the Vermont Service Center, these instructions will include having fingerprints taken at the closest United States Embassy or Consulate,
  • 3) should the petition be approved, one must follow the consular process to enter the United States, this will include an interview with a consular officer at the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate.

 

For more information regarding U Visas, and the process of obtaining a U Visa, please contact the Law Office of Jeffery Bennett via phone: 816-759-2776 (English), 816-759-2777 (Spanish); or via email: jyb@jybennettlaw.com.