Individual who are victims of crime and currently living in the United States illegally may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant status. U nonimmigrant status allows non-citizen victims of crime to stay in the United States, obtain employment authorization, apply for lawful permanent resident status, and help certain family members obtain immigration status as well. In order to qualify for a “U-Visa”, you must meet the following criteria:
- Suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of criminal activity
- Have information regarding the criminal activity and be willing to share it with the authorities looking to investigate the criminal activity
- Assist government officials in investigation or prosecution of criminal activity in question
- The eligible criminal activity violates US law or occurred in the US or on US military installations
The number of U-visas granted per year is limited to 10,000. This does not count the derivative visas that can be issued on each granted U-visa which could apply to the children and spouse of the U-visa recipient.
The U-visa is good for 4 years plus possible extensions and the recipient of a U-visa can apply for Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status after three years.
With the U-visa, a recipient is also qualified for employment in the United States.
If you have another class of visa, but you qualify for a U-visa, you can apply for a U-visa, but you must cancel your current visa status and you cannot renew it so make sure that you qualify for a U-visa before you lose your current visa status.
If you are younger than 16 years old, there are some leniencies in terms of your cooperation with the authorities in the investigation and prosecution of the crime that you experienced, but specifics must be discussed with an immigration attorney.