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There are multiple types of visas for foreign nationals who wish to enter the United States. The qualifying factors for each one will vary, but the general categories are nonimmigrant visas, immigrant visas, and refugee or asylum status.

U Visas

U nonimmigrant status also called a U visa, is reserved for people who have been victims of specified crimes and are helping with the investigation process. This status was created along with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and intended to make it easier to prosecute cases of assault, domestic violence, trafficking, and other crimes. A U visa is also meant to protect victims of these crimes.

Eligibility for a U visa includes the following criteria:

  • Victim of one of the specified crimes
  • Experienced significant physical or mental abuse from the crime
  • The crime was committed in the United States
  • You have or are willing to assist with the investigation
  • You have relevant information about the crime

There are additional qualifying factors and some disqualifying factors, which means determining eligibility on your own may seem impossible. Speaking with an immigration lawyer can clear up much of the confusion surrounding qualifications.

Applying for U Visas

The application for a U visa is a Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. You must also include a supplemental sheet signed by the law enforcement agency involved with the investigation of the crime. This sheet is to certify that you have been or will likely be helpful in the case. You will also need to write and include a personal statement and provide evidence for the individual eligibility requirements listed on the petition. You may be able to petition on behalf of a family member by filing a Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient.

While the crime must have occurred in the US, you can still apply for a U visa if you are not currently in the country. To do this, you must file the U nonimmigrant status forms with the Vermont Service Center. They will provide numerous instructions, including having your fingerprints taken at a US Embassy or Consulate.

All U visa applications are free. However, if you are required to submit an additional form that has a fee, you can file a Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or submit a written request along with your petition.

Do you have questions about applying for asylum in the United States? Jason A. Dennis is a highly-qualified immigration attorney with extensive experience in asylum matters. To discuss your immigration needs, you can schedule a consultation by calling (347) 868-6100.