You may be eligible for U nonimmigrant status (i.e. a U visa) if you have been a victim of criminal activity. To be eligible, you must be a victim of qualifying crime, have suffered mental or physical abuse, and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation and/or prosecution of criminal activity. The U visa is designed to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute criminal cases while at the same time protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime and are willing to help law enforcement investigate and/or prosecute the criminal activity.
Not only may you be eligible for U nonimmigrant status, but certain qualifying family members may also derive U nonimmigrant status based upon their relationship to you. If you are under 21 years of age, your spouse, children, parents, and unmarried brothers and sisters under the age of 18 may derive U nonimmigrant status. If you are over the age of 21, your spouse and children may derive U nonimmigrant status.
You may qualify for U nonimmigrant status if:
- You have been the victim of a qualifying crime;
- You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to being victimized;
- You possess information about the crime you were a victim of;
- You have been helpful or will likely be helpful to law enforcement during the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime;
- The crime of which you were a victim occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws; and
- You are admissible to the U.S. or eligible for a waiver.
If approved, you may be authorized to remain in the United States for a maximum period of 4 years; this period may be extended. You will also be eligible for employment authorization. You may also be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status (i.e. a green card) if you have been physically present in the United States for at least 3 years while in U nonimmigrant status and since receiving U nonimmigrant status you have not unreasonably refused to assist law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime.