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Visa for Victims of Particular Crimes ( U-Visas)

What is a U-visa?

A U-visa is a special nonimmigrant status for victims of certain crimes who have suffered from mental or physical abuse and have helped law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the criminal activity. 

Who qualifies for a U-visa?

Not all kinds of crimes qualify as a criminal activity for a U-visa. Along with those criminal activities specified by the USCIS, there are more requirements to be met when applying for a U-visa. The following must be met:

  • You are the victim of a qualifying criminal activity;
  • You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim;
  • You have information about the criminal activity;
  • You were helpful, are helpful or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement during the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime;
  • The crime occurred in the United States;
  • You are admissible to the United States.

Qualifying Crimes eligible for U-Visas:

To qualify for a U-visa, the criminal activity must be one of the following:

  • 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
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking 
  • Witness Tampering 
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint
  • Other Related Crimes

U-Visa application Process:

In order to obtain a U-visa, the investigating authorities must provide a certification indicating the person helped in giving information.  

Unfortunately, a limit was placed on the number of U-visas that may be granted each year. Only 10,000 visas are issued every year. Once that cap is reached, petitioners are placed on a waiting list for the following year. In addition, due to long processing times with USCIS, U-visas can take up to 5 years to be adjudicated. In the mean time however, if a U-visa application is pending and is deemed bona fide, the petitioner may be eligible to apply for an employment authorization. 

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