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Applying for U Visa Nonimmigrant Status

By December 1, 2022Immigration
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U nonimmigrant status “U Visa” is a temporary immigration status granted to victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement officials in the investigation or prosecution of the crime where a noncitizen is granted a protection from removal for four years and includes authority to work in the United States. Furthermore, a qualifying noncitizen will be permitted to apply for legal permanent resident status after a period of four years.

In order to qualify, the noncitizen must demonstrate the following:

  • The noncitizen was the victim of a qualifying criminal activity, regardless of when the crime happened.
  • The noncitizen suffered a significant physical or mental harm as a result of the criminal activity.
  • The noncitizen possesses information about the criminal activity and has never refused to assist law enforcement (typically the police or court) in the detection, investigation or prosecution of the crime.
  • The crime took place in the United States, and it violated the law.

We discuss the U-visa in further detail here.

Applying for a U Visa

Applying for a U-Visa from outside the United States requires two steps. The first step is submitting the Application for a U Visa by submitting Form I-918 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, “USCIS.” The application must include evidence of the significant harm and just as critical include form I-918, Supplement B which is the form the government official investigating the criminal act must sign to confirm that the noncitizen was helpful, is currently helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case. Finally, form I-192 is a waiver application included with the I-918 and the Supplement B requesting USCIS to consider waiving an applicant’s past acts that have violated immigration law and would normally make the noncitizen ineligible for an immigration benefit.

Once USCIS approves the U-Visa “status”, the next step is to apply for the actual visa with the U.S. consulate or embassy in the country where the noncitizen is present. With this visa, the noncitizen can enter the United States. The visa application requires submission online of Form DS-160. This application will serve to allow the noncitizen to schedule the interview appointment with a consular officer.

The noncitizen is expected to take to the interview:

  • Valid Passport for travel to the United States.
  • The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt.
  • Photo unless uploaded online with the DS-160 application.

At the interview, the noncitizen is likely to have his fingerprints taken and then submit for review by a consular officer. The officer will determine if the noncitizen meets the qualification criteria for the U-Visa, taking consideration that USCIS had approved the “status.” However, the officer can make a second determination with respect whether the noncitizen deserves the visa or if denial is warranted because the noncitizen poses too much of a risk to the United States.

If the visa is approved, then the noncitizen is now permitted to travel into the United States.

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