The U visa is for immigrants who have been the victim of a serious crime and are assisting U.S. law enforcement with an investigation or prosecution. Applicants will not only have to prepare U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, but have this petition certified by a qualifying agency and provide plenty of evidence to substantiate claims of substantial injury.
For that reason, we advise seeking the advice of an experienced immigration attorney or advocate before submitting your application. If you are not sure whether or not you qualify, see "U Visas for Crime Victims Assisting Law Enforcement: Who Is Eligible" to learn more about this unique visa.
If you already have a qualifying government official who is cooperating with your I-918 petition and you are ready to apply for a U visa, here are instructions for filling out the form.
Form I-918, its supplements, and instructions are available on the I-918 page of the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov).
Part 1, “Information about you”: Fill out this section completely with your identifying details. You will need to provide your name (including maiden name and nicknames), address, and phone number, as well as your alien number (A#) and Social Security number (if any). Also provide your birth date, passport information, marital status, I-94# and other arrival/departure information, and current immigration status. If a question does not apply to you, do not leave the space blank, but write “N/A” in it.
Part 2, “Additional information”: Your answers to these questions will determine whether or not you are eligible for a U visa or whether USCIS will require more information from you. If you answer “no” to any of questions 1-5, your application will be denied. Definitely see an attorney if the true answer is “no;” lying on an application can get you into serious trouble.
Question 1. Qualifying Crime. Answer “yes” if you are the victim of any crime listed at Section 101(a)(15)(u) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.).
Question 2. Substantial Physical Mental Abuse. Answer “yes” to certify that you have been substantially injured as the result of the criminal activity.
Question 3. Information About the Crime. Answer “yes” if you have information concerning the crime that you were a victim of.
Question 4. Certification of Helpfulness. Answer “yes” if a qualifying official will be providing a Certification of Helpfulness on Form I-918, Supplement B. For more on this, see “What’s Needed for a U Visa Certification of Helpfulness.” [IMB please link]
Question 5. Place of the Crime. Answer “yes” if the qualifying crime took place in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws.
Question 6. If you are under age 16, answer “yes.” Your parent, guardian, or “next friend” will need to cooperate with the agency and provide information on your behalf.
Question 7. Employment Authorization Document. If you want to apply for a work permit, answer “yes.”
Question 8. Immigration Proceedings. If you have ever been in U.S. removal (deportation) or exclusionproceedings, answer “yes” and provide dates.
Question 9. Admissions to U.S. List your date and place of entry to the U.S. and the status you held at the time. Write the visa you entered with or “EWI” (entered without inspection) if you did not have legal status.
Question 10. Application Outside the U.S. If you are applying for a U visa from abroad, complete this section. Otherwise, write “N/A.”
Part 3, “Processing information”: The following questions will determine whether you are “admissible” to the United States. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, your application may be denied or you may have to file Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, along with your petition. Be sure to consult with an immigration attorney if you need to answer “yes” to any of these questions.
Question 1. Criminal History. The form asks about any arrests, convictions, sentences, imprisonment, probation, parole, alternative sentencing, and rehabilitation. You will need to answer truthfully and list the charge, date, place, and outcome for each event.
Question 2. Likeliness to Become a Public Charge. If you have received food stamps, free medical care (other than emergency medical treatment) or any other form of welfare or public assistance, or are likely to need this type of help in the future, answer “yes.”
Question 3. Moral Character. These questions about prostitution, gambling, helping others to evade immigration laws, and drug trafficking are meant to determine whether you are “inadmissible” because of poor moral character.
Question 4-13, 20. Public Safety, Persecution, Totalitarian and Nazi Party Membership, Polygamy. These questions are self explanatory and your answers will indicate whether you are a threat to public safety, a terrorist threat, have persecuted others, or are the member of an unaccepted political party. If you need to answer “yes” to any of these, you will need to explain your involvement on a separate sheet of paper. Absent very good reason (you were forced to participate in these activities, for example) your U visa application will likely be denied.
Question 14. Removal Proceedings. If you are currently in removal (deportation) proceedings, you can still apply for a U visa. If you were ever ordered removed (or deported) or requested voluntary departure in the past, answer “yes.”
Questions 15-16. False Documentation and Fraud. If you have used false documentation to enter the U.S. or lied to obtain an immigration benefit, you must answer “yes” here. Your visa application will be denied and you will be placed into removal proceedings.
Question 17. Military Draft. If you left the U.S. to avoid being drafted into the military, answer “yes.”
Question 18. J Exchange Visitor Visa Holders. If your J visa came with a two-year foreign residency requirement (requiring you to leave at the end of your J status and spend two years outside the U.S. before qualifying for another visa or green card), answer “yes.” You may have to submit a waiver application, and receive an approval of that, before your U visa petition can be approved.
Question 19. Withholding Child Custody. Self explanatory.
Question 21. Stowaways. Self explanatory.
Question 22. Communicable disease and drug abuse. Self explanatory
Part 4, “Information about your spouse or children”: You will need to fill out personal information for your spouse and children (if applicable).
Part 5, “Filing on behalf of family members”: If you are applying for U derivative status for a qualifying family member, check “Yes.” Qualifying family members include your spouse, unmarried children under age 21, your parents (if principal petitioner is under age 21), and unmarried siblings (if principal petitioner is under age 18).
Part 6, “Attestation, release, and signature”: You must sign and date your application.
After you have completed the application, make a copy for your files. Then send the packet of forms and documents to the USCIS Vermont Service Center.
Checklist for Filing Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
Here are the items you will need to assemble for your U visa petition:
- Form I-918
- Form I-918, Supplement A (if you are applying for derivative status for a qualifying family member)
- Form I-918, Supplement B (completed and certified by a qualifying agency). For more on this, see “What’s Needed for a U Visa Certification of Helpfulness.”
- Supporting documents, including:
- Personal narrative statement, describing how you are a victim of criminal activity and the circumstances surrounding the crime. You can use this statement to prove that you were not at fault in the criminal activity and to supply any information that shows that you were helpful (if you called the authorities to report the crime, for example) or the extent of your injuries.
- Evidence that you are the victim of a qualifying criminal activity. This could include trial transcripts, newspaper articles, police reports, affidavits, or orders of protection (restraining orders)
- Evidence that you suffered substantial physical or mental abuse. This could include affidavits from case or social workers, medical personnel, and police, photographs of injuries, and affidavits from people who have personal knowledge of the criminal activity.
- Evidence that you have helpful information about the crime. Form I-918, Supplement B should be sufficient, but if you have any further information about how you are being helpful to authorities in providing information about the crime, you should submit it.
- Evidence that the crime violated U.S. laws. Again, Form I-918, Supplement B should cover this, but if you have any additional information about the crime, especially if it occurred outside of the U.S. (but violated federal law), you should provide this evidence.
- Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, if applicable. Submit Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant with check or money order (in the amount of $585 as of early 2013), made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” If you cannot afford this amount, you may apply for a fee waiver. If you (or a derivative family member) are inadmissible to the U.S. for reasons of criminal convictions, medical grounds, immigration violations, or some other reason, you must complete Form I-192 and send it along with your U visa petition.
- Information to prove relationship of derivative family members. Provide documentation to prove that your family member qualifies for derivative U status (for example, birth or marriage certificates). Make sure that any foreign language documents are accompanied by a full English translation that is certified as complete and accurate by a translator competent to translate from the foreign language into English.
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and appropriate filing fees for any derivative family members who wish to work and are currently in the United States. If the principal petitioner’s I-918 is approved, he or she will be sent an EAD, but family members must separately submit Form I-765 if they need an EAD.