Understanding U-Visas


If you’re a victim of human trafficking or domestic abuse, you may be eligible for a U-visa. A U-visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows victims to stay in the United States while they help law enforcement prosecute crimes.

Here’s everything you need to know about this type of visa.

Who is eligible for a U-Visa?

To be eligible for a U-visa, you must:

  • Be a victim of a qualifying criminal activity that took place in the United States or violated US laws
  • Have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity
  • You must have information about the criminal activity
  • Are helpful, or are likely to be helpful, to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime
  • You are admissible to the United States

Which crimes count as “qualifying criminal activity?” 

A long list of crimes counts. The current list includes:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive sexual contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic violence
  • Extortion
  • False imprisonment
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Felonious assault
  • Fraud in foreign labor contracting
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Slave Trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint

Other related crimes may also be considered.

How do you apply for a U-visa?

You must fill out Form I-918. A law enforcement officer must fill out Form I-918, Supplement B, to confirm you are helpful or are likely to be helpful to an investigation.

If there are admissibility issues, you need to fill out Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.

You must also submit a personal statement describing the criminal activity of which you were a victim and submit evidence to back up your claims.

Obviously, there is no part of the application process that is easy. Even knowing whether you have admissibility issues that need to be addressed could be a challenge. Fortunately, you can work with our law firm to help ensure that your application packet is filled out correctly, increasing the chances that your visa application will be approved.

Are U-visas easy to obtain?

There is no such thing as a visa that is easy to obtain. Even U-visas are becoming the subject of fraud and schemes in the United States, which means they’re receiving as much USCIS scrutiny as any other visa.

Can you adjust status from a U-visa?

It’s possible, but it can be difficult. In 2021, U-visa applicants became eligible to apply for a work permit. An employer may be able to sponsor you for permanent residency, which, in turn, could give you a path to citizenship. In addition, you may be eligible for a marriage-based green card later.

You may also be able to make an asylum application if you are eligible for that type of visa.

Unfortunately, the U-visa doesn’t offer other, more direct paths to permanent residency or citizenship.

Get Help Today

It can be difficult to navigate the US immigration system. Our team has extensive experience helping with visa applications of every kind.

Contact our law firm to get started today.

See also:

How Does an Employment-Based Green Card Work?

What is the Difference Between Asylum Status and Refugee Status?

What Are the Four Types of Immigration?


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