Q: How Does One Become Eligible for U Nonimmigrant Status?
A: There are four statutory eligibility requirements. The individual must:
• The individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
• The individual must have information concerning that criminal activity.
• The individual must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
• The criminal activity violated U.S. laws
Q: What are the Procedures to Request U Nonimmigrant Status?
A: Foreign national victims of crime must file a, Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. The form requests information regarding the petitioner's eligibility for such status, as well as admissibility to the United States. Currently, USCIS has designated its Vermont Service Center as the centralized location to receive all U nonimmigrant petitions.
Q: Is There a Fee for Applying for U Nonimmigrant Status?
A: No. The program involves the well being of petitioners and USCIS' decision to waive the petition fee reflects the humanitarian purposes of the law.
Petitioners for a U nonimmigrant status are entitled to request a fee waiver of any form associated with the filing for the U nonimmigrant status.
If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may submit a Request for Fee Waiver, Form I-912 (or a written request). For more information about fee waiver guidance, click here.
Q: What Prevents Any Foreign National From Claiming This Status By Saying They Were a Victim of a Crime?
A: A petition for U nonimmigrant status must also contain a certification of helpfulness from a certifying agency. That means the victim must provide a U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (Form I-918, Supplement B), from a U.S. law enforcement agency that demonstrates the petitioner "has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful" in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Q: What Qualifies as a "Certifying Agency"?
A: Certifying agencies can be Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges or other authority that investigates or prosecutes criminal activity.
Other agencies such as child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor also qualify as certifying agencies since they have criminal investigative jurisdiction within their respective areas of expertise.
Q: How Long Can One Maintain the U Nonimmigrant Classification?
A: U nonimmigrant status cannot exceed four years. However, extensions are available upon certification by a certifying agency that the foreign national's presence in the United States is required to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity.
Q: Can a Foreign National Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status From Outside the United States?
A: Yes. USCIS has determined that the legal framework for U nonimmigrant status permits foreign national victims of criminal activity to petition for such status either inside or outside the United States.
If not admissible to enter the United States as a foreign national, an applicant for a U visa must obtain a waiver of inadmissibility through submission of a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant. This waiver is adjudicated by the Vermont Service Center of USCIS on a discretionary basis, allowing the petitioner to continue with the U nonimmigrant visa process.
Q: Is There a Cap on The Number of U Nonimmigrant Status Grants?
A: Yes. USCIS may grant no more than 10,000 U-1 nonimmigrant visas in any given fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). This does not apply to derivative family members such as spouses, children or other qualifying family members who are accompanying or following to join the principal foreign national victim.
If the cap is reached in any fiscal year before all petitions are adjudicated, USCIS will create a waiting list that will provide a mechanism by which victims cooperating with law enforcement agencies can stabilize their immigration status. Further, U nonimmigrant visa petitioners assigned to the waiting list will be given deferred action or parole while they are on the waiting list. This means they will be eligible to apply for employment authorization or travel until their petitions can be adjudicated after the start of the following fiscal year.
Q: Can Family Members of the Petitioner Receive U Nonimmigrant Status?
A: Family members who accompany the petitioner can, under certain circumstances obtain a U nonimmigrant derivative visa. The U nonimmigrant visa principal must petition on behalf of qualifying family members.
The principal petitioner needs to file a Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient, on behalf of their qualifying family members.