The U visa is provided to victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and they are willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation of the same. USCIS has set aside 10,000 U visas to be issued annually and that does not include the principle applicants’ spouses and children or other qualifying family members. The individual must have:
- Suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity;
- Has information concerning the criminal activity;
- Been helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and
- The crime violated U.S. federal law.
Qualifying criminal activity is an activity that involves one or more activities that violate U.S. criminal law and includes abduction, abusive sexual contact, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, genital female mutilation, felonious assault, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping and manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, prostitution, rape, sexual exploitation, slave trade, torture, trafficking, witness tampering, unlawful criminal restraint and other related crimes.
The victim must file Form I-918 so as to show eligibility for U Visa. Victim must also provide certification from a U.S. law enforcement agency that demonstrates that the victim “has been helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful” in investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
U visa status cannot exceed four years but in rare circumstances, may be extended. U visa holders can apply for work authorization.
If the principle petitioner is under the age of 21 years, then he or she may petition on behalf of spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings under the age of 18 years. If the principle petitioner is older than 21 years, then he or she may petition for spouse and children only.
U visa holder may eventually apply to adjust status if the person is physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least three years since the date of admission as U visa holder and has not unreasonably refused to provide assistance to law enforcement since receiving U visa and the certifying agency must determine that the individual’s continued presence in the country is justified on humanitarian grounds.
We, at the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC can help you in applying for change of status/ extension/adjustment of status to a different visa.