For those who have been victimized by a crime and have suffered mental/physical abuse can be granted a U nonimmigrant status also known as a U visa. This visa is also granted for those who are helpful to the investigation or prosecution of a criminal activity. When a victim is able to provide substantial help to law enforcement or government officials in prosecuting and/or investigating the criminal activity, they will be eligible for a U visa.
The U Visa was created to assist victims of violent crime to be able to speak up and report the crimes they are experiencing without fear or threat to their immigration status. The U Visa allows temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States for up to four years. Out of those who qualify, USCIS grants 10,000 are U visas per fiscal year. However, there is no cap for family members deriving status from the principal applicant, such as spouses, children, or other eligible family members.
In order to apply for a U Visa you must prove that you:
- Have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of qualifying criminal activity
- Possess credible and reliable knowledge of the details concerning the qualifying criminal activity upon which your petition is based
- Have cooperated with local, state, or federal law enforcement
- Get the agency you cooperated with to certify in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity
U Visa Certification
Within 6 months after one has filed an application for a U visa he/she must include a Form I-918 Supplement B also referred to as “U Visa Certification”. This supplemental form must be signed by a certifying official.
Any head or designated official of a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency including police, prosecutor, and other authorities who investigates and prosecutes the criminal activity that has been reported. No certifying official is obligated to sign the U Visa Certification. This decision is solely up to the official and his/her decision to sign is completely optional.
If you’ve read some of the key information regarding U visas outlined above and feel strongly that you may be eligible for a U visa, don’t wait to apply. In order to improve your chances of receiving help from a certifying official to sign Form I-917, you’ll want to make sure that you share an abundance of accurate details that will help aid their investigation and prosecution process.
Applying for a U visa can be a grueling and involved process, so it is crucial to have an experienced U visa immigration lawyer by your side to help you through the application process.