This visa is available to victims of criminal activity who have suffered substantial mental and/or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement agencies and officials in investigation such activities. The purpose of this visa category is to give temporary legal status and work authorization to victims of certain crimes for up to a four-year period. USCIS officers are authorized to protect the foreigner from removal through parole, deferred action, stay of removal etc.
The definition of qualifying criminal activity is those activities that violate the criminal laws of the United States and involve one or more of the following:
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Genital Female Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Involuntary Servitude
- Kidnapping Manslaughter
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trader
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes
The important thing to note is that the abuser of the victim need not be a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident and the foreigner need not be married to the abuser. Moreover, the foreigner need not even be present in the United States, and can apply for the U visa while abroad, as long as the qualifying criminal activity violates the criminal laws of the United States.
According to USCIS, the person must satisfy the following requirements to qualify for a U visa:
- The individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity;
- The individual must have information concerning that criminal activity;
- The individual must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime;
- The criminal activity violated U.S. laws.
Furthermore, the U visa holder can adjust status in the United State sunless the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has proof that he refused to cooperate or assist in the criminal investigation or prosecution. Upon approval of the U visa, qualifying family members, like child, parent and spouse, of the beneficiary can also adjust status in the United States or apply for consular processing.
The following documents are required in order to apply under this visa category:
- Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant status, including additional supplements;
- Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant;
- Evidence to support the fact that the qualifying criminal activity occurred, such as trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, protective orders or other similar evidence;
- Evidence documenting physical or mental abuse such as reports from medical personnel, school officials, social workers etc;
- Any photographic evidence to document injuries;
- Witness affidavits, that is, affidavits from family, friends or others who have personal knowledge of the facts;
- Personal statement by the victim giving an account of his victimization;
- Filing fees, if applicable