Filling Out Form I-918 Petition for a U Visa

Applicants for a U visa 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.

By , Attorney Temple University Beasley School of Law
Updated 4/23/2024

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. People wanting to apply for one 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 resulting from the crime. For more guidance on whether you qualify, see U Visas for Crime Victims Assisting Law Enforcement: Who Is Eligible.

However, 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 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.

Line-by-Line Instructions for Filling Out Form I-918

Form I-918, its supplements, and instructions are available on the I-918 page of the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov). This article refers to the version of the form issued 04/01/2024.

Part 1, "Information About You": You will need to provide your name (including maiden name and nicknames), physical address and (if you're afraid to receive mail there) a safe mailing address, and phone number, as well as your alien number (A#) if you have received one from U.S. immigration authorities, 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, gender (currently male and female are the only choices, but USCIS is slowly changing this), 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 require more information from you or deny your application outright. 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 crucial requirement, 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, to evaluate what effect those proceedings or any order of deportation have on your current claim.

Questions 8-10. List your dates and places of entry to the United States 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.

Most of the questions 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.

With regard to question 17, 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.

With regard to 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.

With regard to 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 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 asks whether you have used false documentation to enter the U.S. or lied to obtain an immigration benefit. If so, 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 asks whether you left the U.S. to avoid being drafted into the military. If so, you must answer "yes."

Question 25 asks whether 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). If so, you must answer "yes," and might have to submit a waiver application and receive its approval before your U visa petition can be approved.

Question 26 concerns refusing to honor a child custody order and keeping a child outside the United States. You'll definitely need to consult an attorney if your answer to this is yes.

Question 27 asks whether you plan to practice polygamy (enter into multiple marriages). Answering yes would make you inadmissible to the United States.

Question 28 concerns entry as a stowaway; another ground of inadmissibility.

Question 29 concerns communicable diseases and mental disorders that threaten public safety, and drug abuse, which 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 of this part. 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 but it didn't fit there.

Submitting Form I-918 to USCIS

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.

What Happens After You Submit Form I-918

After USCIS receives your Form I-918 it should review it and either send you a Request for Evidence (RFE) if it's incomplete and you need to send in more information or documents, or a receipt notice (Form I-797) if it has been accepted for processing.

How Long Will It Take USCIS to Process Form I-918?

Many steps must be completed before USCIS can approve your I-918, and these can take many months. You can check the current average processing time on USCIS's website. Waits of 60 months were the reported average in spring of 2024!

Getting Legal Help

Because the process of applying for a U visa is complex, consider getting a full analysis of your situation from an experienced immigration attorney. The attorney can also help you prepare the paperwork and monitor your application as it makes its way through the system. If your income is low and you would have trouble affording an attorney, also see Legal Aid and Pro Bono Representation and How to Find It.

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