Victims of certain criminal activities that happened in the United States or violated US laws may be able to petition for U nonimmigrant status. In order to be eligible, you must have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the criminal activity and possess information concerning that criminal activity. Law enforcement must also certify that the victim has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
What’s the Difference Between U Nonimmigrant Status and a U Nonimmigrant Visa?
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves U nonimmigrant petitions both for people who are in the United States and for those abroad.
- If you are already in the United States and have an approved petition, you are immediately granted U nonimmigrant status by USCIS.
- If you are overseas and have an approved U visa petition, or already have U nonimmigrant status and have traveled overseas, you will need to apply for a U visa at a US Embassy or Consulate. If issued a U visa, you will be in U nonimmigrant status after entering the United States.
U Visa Eligibility
USCIS decides who is eligible for a U Visa, not law enforcement. However, law enforcement does provide information to USCIS, so they can determine if the person:
- is a victim of a qualifying crime or criminal activity;
- has information about the crime or criminal activity; and
- is, was, or is likely to be helpful in the detection or investigation of the qualifying crime or criminal activity, or the prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of the perpetrator of the qualifying crime or criminal activity.
What Constitutes a Qualifying Crime or Criminal Activity?
The following table lists the criminal activities that are considered “qualifying criminal activities” for purposes of U visa eligibility. These are general categories of crimes and it is important to note that any similar criminal activities that violate Federal, state, or local laws may also be considered “qualifying criminal activities” for purposes of U visa eligibility.
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Being Held Hostage
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Felonious Assault
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Exploitation
- Slave Trade
- Witness Tampering
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint