As a law enforcement official, you play an important role in the application process for U nonimmigrant status (also known as a U visa). The U visa can be a key tool to support your case. The U visa can help certain crime victims feel safer reporting crimes, so that they may be more willing to work with you, even if they do not have lawful immigration status.
If approved, the U visa provides the victim with:
• temporary immigration status including work authorization;
• temporary immigration status for qualifying family members of the victim; and
• the possibility of lawful permanent resident status.
U VISA ELIGIBILITY
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), decides if a person is eligible for a U visa. Law enforcement does not determine who is eligible for a U visa; however, law enforcement provides information so that USCIS can determine if the person:• is a victim of a qualifying crime or criminal activity;
• has information about the crime or criminal activity; and
• is, was, or is likely to be helpful in the detection or investigation of the qualifying crime
or criminal activity, or the prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of the perpetrator of
the qualifying crime or criminal activity.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A QUALIFYING CRIME OR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY?
The following table lists the criminal activities that are considered “qualifying criminal activities” for purposes of U visa eligibility. These are general categories of crimes and it is important to note that any similar criminal activities that violate Federal, state, or local laws may also be considered “qualifying criminal activities” for purposes of U visa eligibility.
• Abusive Sexual Contact
• Being Held Hostage
• Domestic Violence
• False Imprisonment
• Felonious Assault
• Female Genital Mutilation
• Fraud in Foreign Labor
• Involuntary Servitude
• Obstruction of Justice
• Sexual Assault
• Sexual Exploitation
• Slave Trade
• Witness Tampering
• Unlawful Criminal
Qualifying crimes include any similar activity where the nature and elements of the crime are substantially similar to one of
the crimes listed. Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the crimes listed above may also count as a “qualifying
DOES THE VICTIM AUTOMATICALLY RECEIVE AU VISA BECAUSE A CERTIFICATION HAS BEEN SIGNED?
No. The certification by itself does not grant any immigration benefit. USCIS reviews all of the evidence submitted along with the certification to determine whether a victim is eligible for a U visa. USCIS also conducts a thorough background check of each U visa petitioner (as well as each
included family member).
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PREVENTING U VISA FRAUD?
The USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate works to ensure that individuals seeking to
defraud our immigration system are not granted a U Visa.
WHERE CAN I FIND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION? Call the Law Offices of Norka M. Schell, LLC at (212) 258-0713 to speak with an immigration lawyer.