What is a U Visa?

Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of noncitizens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve victims of crimes.

Who Is Eligible for a U Visa?

To be eligible for the U Visa, the individual must meet for statutory requirements. These are they must have suffered substantial, physical, or mental abuse due to being a victim of a qualifying criminal activity. The criminal activity must have violated US laws. The U-Visa victim must be able to provide information concerning the criminal activity that must be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of a crime.

Benefits of applying for a U Visa?

U Visa holders can legally live in the United States for four years. After three years of having a U-Visa, the individual can apply for a green card to stay in the U.S. permanently. (And eventually apply to become a U.S. citizen).

With a U-Visa, the individual can get permission to work in the United States. Some family members might also be able to get a U-Visa. One may be eligible for certain public benefits in some states like California and New York.

How long does it take to get a U-Visa?
Processing times vary. The government is currently taking about 6-9 months to approve or deny a U application.