- The U nonimmigrant visa category applies to a person who has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of certain crimes.
- It is intended 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.
- The applicant is a victim of qualifying criminal activity;
- The applicant has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity;
- The applicant has information about the criminal activity. If the applicant is under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on his/her behalf;
- The applicant was helpful, is helpful, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. A certification must be provided to that effect by an authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency. If the applicant is under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on his/her behalf;
- The crime occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws; and
- The applicant is admissible to the U.S. If inadmissible, the applicant may apply for I-192 waiver. All grounds of inadmissibility except for Nazi persecutors are waivable by DHS if in the “public or national interest.”
Period of Stay:
When U nonimmigrant status is granted, it is valid for 4 years. However, it is not renewable except the extension is:
- Needed based on a request from law enforcement;
- Needed based on exceptional circumstances;
- Needed due to delays in consular processing; or
- Automatically extended upon the filing and pendency of an application for permanent residence.
Applying for a Green Card:
The applicant may be eligible to apply for permanent residence if:
- The applicant has been physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least 3 years while in U status; Physical presence is broken if the applicant is outside the U.S. in excess of 90 days or an aggregate of 180 days unless the absence is to assist in an investigation or prosecution or a person involved in the investigation certifies that the absence was otherwise justified; and
- The applicant has not unreasonably refused to provide assistance to law enforcement since he/she received U visa.
- If the visa applicant is under the age of 21, his/her spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings under the age of 18 are eligible for a derivative U visa.
- If the visa applicant is over the age of 21, only his/her spouse and children are eligible for a derivative U visa.
- DHS officers are instructed to use existing authority and mechanism, such as parole, deferred action, continuances and stays of removal, to prevent the removal of possible U victims.
- They should also be provided employment authorization.