Once you have determined that you might be eligible for a U visa or U status in the U.S. (as described in U Visas for Crime Victims Assisting Law Enforcement: Who Is Eligible) the next step is to prepare and submit an application. Applying for a U visa involves the following steps:
We'll explain each of these steps below.
For line-by-line instructions, see Filling Out Form I-918 Petition for a U Visa.
As part of your application for a U visa, you will need to have the head of a law enforcement agency or judge fill out a "certification of helpfulness" on your behalf. This is done on USCIS Form I-918 Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. It affirms that you have reliable information that will assist in investigating or prosecuting the case, and that you are cooperating with providing that information to the relevant law enforcement agency.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to convince law enforcement to provide this. For detailed information, see What's Needed for a U Visa Certification of Helpfulness.
Filling out the required forms will not be enough, by itself, to qualify you for a U visa. You will also need to prepare or gather various documents to support your claim, such as:
An attorney can help you gather or prepare these documents, but you will still need to play a role in considering what the best sources might be, and in talking to friends, doctors, and others who can help.
The principal petitioner for a U visa or U status does not need to worry about applying for a work permit (EAD). If the I-918 is approved, they will be sent an EAD automatically.
Any derivative family members who want to work must, however, separately submit a Form I-765 to USCIS , with accompanying fee (or fee waiver request). This can either be sent with the I-918 petition or the derivative family members can wait and apply for their work permit after the I-918 petition has been approved.
This form is fairly short and self-explanatory. For Question 16, the applicant's eligibility category, derivative family members would fill in "(a)(20)."
After you have completed the application, make a copy for your files. Then send the packet of forms and documents to the USCIS address listed on the I-918 page of its website. There is no fee for filing a primary U visa petition.
You might be required to attend an in-person interview, either at a local USCIS office or, if you (or your family members) are applying from overseas, at the U.S embassy or consulate in your home country.
The purpose of the interview will be for U.S. officials to review your file and talk with you personally about your eligibility for a U visa or your relationship with the principal applicant (if you are a family member applying for derivative status) and to make sure you are not inadmissible to the United States.
If all goes well, you will be approved for a U visa (from overseas) or U status (within the U.S.) at that time. If you are denied, however, and you have no other lawful status in the U.S., you could be placed into removal (deportation) proceedings and have to defend yourself in immigration court.