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The U Visa - Victims of Crime


The U visa offers protection to victims of crimes who step forward to assist law enforcement investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking and other crimes.

U visa for victims of crimeIn order to apply for an adjustment of status, a nonimmigrant currently within the “U” visa status must have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years since the date of admission. 

The “U” nonimmigrants must be in valid nonimmigrant status at the time of application.  There is no numerical cap on adjustment of status for “U” nonimmigrants.

The U visa is a nonimmigrant status that, according to the statute, may be available when:

(I) the alien has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of the following qualifying crimes or substantially similar criminal activity:

"Our office has succesfully obtained legal residency for people that have been a victim of a crime.  If you would like to discuss your situation with  us please call us."


  • Rape
  • Torture 
  • Trafficking 
  • Incest 
  • Domestic violence 
  • Sexual assault 
  • Abusive sexual contact 
  • Prostitution 
  • Sexual exploitation 
  • Female genital mutilation 
  • Being held hostage 
  • Peonage 
  • Involuntary servitude 
  • Slave trade 
  • Kidnapping, abduction 
  • Unlawful criminal restraint 
  • False imprisonment 
  • Blackmail, extortion 
  • Murder, manslaughter 
  • Felonious assault 
  • Witness tampering 
  • Obstruction of justice 
  • Perjury 
  • Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above

(II) the alien (or in the case of an alien child under the age of 16, the parent, guardian, or next friend of the alien) possesses information concerning the criminal activity;

(III) the alien (or in the case of an alien child under the age of 16, the parent, guardian or next friend of the alien) has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to a Federal, State, or local law enforcement official, to a Federal, State, or local prosecutor, to a Federal or State judge, to USCIS, or to other Federal, State, or local authorities investigating or prosecuting the criminal activity; and

(IV) the criminal activity violated the laws of the U.S. or occurred in the U.S. (including in Indian country and military institutions) or the territories and possessions of the U.S.

A. Benefits of the U Visa

  1. U visa nonimmigrant legal status for four years, which may, under certain circumstances, be extended.
  2. Opportunity to seek permanent residency (“green card”) after three years in U status.
  3. Employment authorization for the principal applicant.

Applicants Living in the U.S.

For the principal applicant applying in the U.S., USCIS will automatically issue an initial Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to applicants granted U-1 nonimmigrant status.  Applicants with a pending, bona fide application for U status may also be eligible for an EAD. However, as of the drafting of this manual, USCIS had not issued a bona fide standard.

Applicants Living Outside the U.S.

Principal applicants who apply from outside the U.S. will not be issued an EAD until the applicant has been granted U status. After admission, the applicant may receive an initial EAD upon request.

Derivative status for family members.

If petitioner is under 21, then spouse, children, parents (only if petitioner is unmarried) and siblings under 18 at the time of filing I-918 (not time of interim filing) can apply for derivative status.  If petitioner is over 21, then spouse and children can apply for derivative status.

Derivatives may apply for EAD either as part of the initial submission, or after receiving U status.

In order to qualify for the U visa, a person must establish the following:

A. Information about Criminal Activity
The applicant must possess information about the criminal activity of which s/he has been a direct or indirect victim. It must be established that the criminal activity either violated the laws of the U.S. or occurred within the U.S., its territories, or possessions.

More information about the U Visa:



The U Visa Manual

Articles related to this topic

  • Adjustment of Status
  • What you Need to Know about Adjustment of status under section 245(i)
  • Green Card through VAWA (Battered Spouse, Children & Parents of U.S. Citizen)

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