The U Nonimmigrant status, also known as U visa, is designed to encourage immigrant community members to report crimes to law enforcement. The U visa allows qualifying applicants and, in some cases, some of their family members, to gain protection from deportation for a period of four years and eventually apply for a green card.

Many U visa applicants can benefit their families as well when they pursue this benefit. Age of the principal applicant is the main factor to determine which relatives can benefit. Please note it does not matter if the relative resides abroad or in the United States. However, if a family member was the perpetrator of the crime, they will not be able to benefit from this case.

Applicants under 21 years of age (at the time the application is submitted to the government) can have the following family members be derivatives of the case:

  • Their parents
  • Their spouse
  • Their minor children
  • Their unmarried siblings under 18 years of age

Applicants at least 21 years old may include the following relatives:

  • Their minor unmarried children
  • Their spouse

As noted above, including a family member as part of a case is influenced by both the age of the principal applicant and the relationship with the relative at the time the U visa application is submitted. However, once the principal applicant gains 3 years of physical presence in the United States after the case has been approved, they will be able to apply for a green card and again have the option of including other family members, even if they were not included as part of the initial U visa application), such as:

  • Their spouse (even if they were not married at the time the initial U visa application was submitted)
  • Their minor children
  • Their parents

Unfortunately, the current delays on processing these applications mean that applicants must wait for over four years for a decision on their case. As of August of 2019, USCIS is processing cases submitted on April 29, 2015 or earlier.  These delays could have serious implications for family members of the applicants, particularly for children, thus it is usually advisable to submit U visa applications as soon as possible.

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