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, and because filing such a petition risks deportation even if one has a strong case, we advise seeking the advice of an experienced immigration attorney or advocate before submitting your application. If unsure 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.
Part 1, "Information About You": You will need to provide your name (including maiden name and nicknames), address, and phone number, as well as your alien number (A#), Social Security number (if you have one), and USCIS Online Account Number (if you have one, based on a previous application). Also provide your birth date, passport information, marital status, I-94 number and other arrival/departure information, and current immigration status (such as "B-2 visitor" or "out of status" if you're either in the U.S. unlawfully or have overstayed a visa or permitted stay).
Part 2, "Additional Information About You":
Your answers to these questions will determine whether or not you are eligible for a U visa or whether USCIS will, at a minimum, 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. Answer "yes" if you are the victim of any crime listed at § 101(a)(15)(U) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) or 8 U.S. Code § 1101 (a)(15)(U).
Question 2. Answer "yes" to certify that you have been substantially injured as the result of the criminal activity.
Question 3. Answer "yes" if you have information concerning the crime that you were a victim of.
Question 4. 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.
Question 5. 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. If you have ever been in U.S. removal (deportation) or exclusion
proceedings, or other court proceedings relevant to your immigration case, answer "yes" and provide dates in the appropriate space below. In either case, it would be wise to consult an attorney.
Questions 8-10. List your dates and places of entry to the U.S. over the past five years and the status you held at the time of each entry. Write the type of visa you entered with or "EWI" (entered without inspection) if you did not have legal status. If you've entered more than three times during this period, add the remaining information in Part 8 of the form.
Questions 11-12. If you are applying for a U visa from abroad, complete this section. Otherwise, write "N/A" for "not applicable."
Part 3, "Processing Information": These questions are intended to determine whether you are "admissible" to the United States. If you answer "yes" to any of these, your application may be denied or you might have to file Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant along with your petition. Consult with an immigration attorney if you need to answer "yes" to any of these questions.
Questions 1-15. These ask about your criminal history, if any, as well as your moral character. Arrests, convictions, sentences, imprisonment, probation, parole, alternative sentencing, rehabilitation, prostitution, gambling, helping others to evade immigration laws, drug trafficking, and terrorist acts or affiliations, persecution of others, totalitarian or Nazi Party membership, polygamy, and more are covered. You will need to answer truthfully and list the charge, date, place, and outcome for each event. If you need to answer "yes" to any of these, you will need to explain your involvement in Part 8 of the form. Speak to an attorney: Absent very good reason (you were forced to participate in these activities, for example) your U visa application will likely be denied.
Questions 16-19. If you are currently in removal (deportation) or similar immigration proceedings, it's still possible to apply for a U visa, but the judge might not be able to postpone your hearing dates long enough to get the needed approvals from USCIS. If you were ever ordered removed (or deported), it gets even more complicated. You might be able to help you get a "stay of removal" so as to postpone exercise of your removal order until your case can be heard, but such stays can be hard to obtain. In either case, definitely hire an attorney.
Question 20. If a consulate or other immigration agency has ever refused to grant you a visa or U.S. entry, you must answer "yes" here, and can expect USCIS to closely examine the reasons, looking for signs of fraud or inadmissibility.
Question 21. If you ever requested voluntary departure in the past, but you didn't leave the United States as you were supposed to, answer "yes."
Question 22. This asks whether you've been accused of using false documents under Section 274(c) of U.S. immigration law and been punished with a civil penalty or order of removal. If unsure, definitely consult an attorney.
Question 23. If you have used false documentation to enter the U.S. or lied to obtain an immigration benefit, you must answer "yes" here. See an attorney: Your U visa application will likely be denied and you will be placed into removal proceedings if you aren't already in them.
Question 24. If you left the U.S. to avoid being drafted into the military, answer "yes."
Question 25. If you are or were on a J visa that came with a two-year foreign residency requirement (mandating that you leave the U.S. 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 might have to submit a waiver application, and receive an approval of that, before your U visa petition can be approved.
Question 26. This concerns refusing to honor a child custody order, and kept a child outside the United States. You'll definitely need to consult an attorney if your answer to this is yes.
Question 27. This asks whether you plan to practice polygamy (enter into multiple marriages). Answering yes would make you inadmissible to the United States.
Question 28. This concerns entry as a stowaway; another ground of inadmissibility.
Question 29. Communicable diseases and mental disorders that threaten public safety, and drug abuse, make the applicant inadmissible. See an attorney.
Part 4, "Information About Your Spouse and/or Children": You will need to fill out personal information for your husband or wife and children (if applicable).
"Filing on Behalf of Family Members": If you are applying for U derivative status for a qualifying family member, check "Yes" to Question 26. Qualifying family members include a spouse, unmarried children under age 21, parents (if you are the principal petitioner and are under age 21), and unmarried siblings (if you are the principal petitioner and are under age 18).
Part 5, "Petitioner's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature": You must sign and date your application and provide assurances that you understood its contents, as well as ways to reach you.
Part 6, Interpreter's Contact Information, Certification, and Signature. If you had someone translate the contents of the application for you as you filled it in, that's okay, but that person needs to fill out this section.
Part 7, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Petition, if Other Than the Petitioner. If a lawyer, legal assistant, or other person filled out this form for you, that person needs to fill in this section.
Part 8, Additional Information. Use this section if you have to add to what you said earlier in the form.
After you have completed the application, make a copy for your files. Then send the packet of forms and documents to either the USCIS Vermont or the Nebraska Service Center, depending on where you live. (Follow USCIS's online instructions.) There is no filing fee.