U Visa Requirements: A Complete Checklist


The U Nonimmigrant Visa is designed to help people who:

  • Have been victims of certain crimes,
  • That occurred in the US or that violated US laws,
  • Have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse, and
  • Help law enforcement agencies or other government officials to investigate or prosecute criminal activity


We will go into much more detail below about the U Visa and what is needed to apply.


In addition, a checklist is available to guide anyone interested in obtaining the necessary documents to apply for a U visa. This checklist is useful, as long as the person meets the U visa eligibility criteria.


Let’s get started.


Need help with applying for a marriage visa? Contact Agarwal Law Group today for a consultation!

What is a U Nonimmigrant Visa?

U nonimmigrant visas were created by Congress in October of 2000, with the passing of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Its primary goal was to better help law enforcement agencies and other government officials with the ability to investigate and prosecute cases involving domestic violence, trafficking of people, physical abuse, sexual assault, and other heinous crimes. The purpose of the U visa is to protect and help victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental and/or physical abuse.


For non-citizen victims to be able to come forward and assist in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity, they need to feel safe and secure. Through the creation of the U visa, Congress sought to protect victims, so they can feel secure enough to assist law enforcement agencies and other government officials, and these in turn are in a better position to investigate and prosecute criminal activity and to better protect victims.


Below are listed the benefits afforded to the victims of crimes who obtain a U visa, and to their family members.

What are the Benefits of a U Visa?

Probably the most crucial and important feature of the U visa is that, if obtained, it provides non-citizens with a pathway to permanent resident status.


Non-citizens who apply for U Visas, are normally people who have gone through traumatic experiences, as a result of criminal activity. Although this visa cannot undo the mental and/or physical damage done, it can bring hope and comfort in a very dark time.  A U Visa can lead to a green card and eventually U.S. citizenship.


When a person obtains a U visa, the following benefits are provided as well:

  • Temporary legal nonimmigrant status in the US, for a period of 4 years
  • Employment authorization and social security number
  • Ability to request and extend u visa status to certain family members, even if they were not victims of the crime
  • Eligibility to apply for lawful permanent resident status, after having been physically present in the US for 3 years after obtaining a U visa

Related Links: Most Common Reason VAWA Applications Get Denied

Who Qualifies for a U Visa?

U Visa requiring documentation

To qualify for a U Visa, a person must meet the following eligibility criteria:


  • They are the victim of qualifying criminal activity (these will be discussed later on in the article)
  • They have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse
  • They have information regarding the criminal activity. If the person is under 16 years of age or is unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may provide the information about the crime on the person’s behalf
  • The person is helpful, has been helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime and obtains a Form I-918 (supplement B), U Nonimmigrant Status Certification from a law enforcement official or other government official investigating or prosecuting the criminal activity, attesting to this
  • The crime occurred in the US or violated US laws
  • The person is admissible into the US. If they are not admissible, a waiver may be requested

What Criminal Activities Qualify for the U Visa?

There are specific qualifying criminal activities for U Visas. The following list details the crimes included. It is important to emphasize that the attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit the following is also included:


  • 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 restraints
  • Other related crimes – this includes any activity in which the elements of the crime are substantially similar to the ones here listed


When comfortable and ready to apply for a U visa or lawful permanent residency based on a U visa, speak with a U visa lawyer for help with the next steps.


Related Links: VAWA: How Long Does A Petition Take?

What Supporting Documents are Needed to Apply for a U Visa?

documents to get U Visa

The following is a general guide or checklist of the documents that are needed to apply for a U visa. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that each case is different, and certain additional documents could be needed. Consulting with an attorney is a great way to know exactly what is needed for a person’s specific case.


  • Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
  • Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification
  • Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant (if applicable)
  • Form I-912, Fee Waiver, if applicable
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  • Personal statement describing the criminal activity of which the person was a victim
  • Evidence of the abuse suffered
  • Evidence the person possesses information regarding the criminal activity
  • Form I-918 Supplement A, if applying for a qualifying family member
    • Evidence of the family relationship


What is the U Visa Cap?

Each year there is a limit on the number of U visas that can be approved to a principal petitioner. The numerical cap is 10,000 per year. As a result, if the cap is reached before all petitions have been adjudicated, USCIS will create a waiting list and issue a bona fide determination.


When USCIS issues a bona fide determination in a U visa petition, the person resides in the US, and they warrant a favorable exercise of discretion, the person can receive a work permit and deferred action (protection from removal from the US). The person will receive a letter from USCIS, notifying them of the bona fide determination and they can apply for a work permit.


Once additional visas become available, USCIS will send the visa approval to the people on the waiting list, in the order their cases were received. Those who are on the waiting list do not need to take additional steps once they are placed on the list.

Can a Victim get a Green Card after receiving a U Visa?

Non-citizens who obtain U visas are eligible to apply for a lawful permanent resident card if they:


  • Have been physically present in the US for a continuous period of 3 years, after obtaining their U visa
  • Have not unreasonably refused to cooperate with law enforcement, since obtaining their U visa status (willingness to assist in the investigation and prosecution of the criminal activity must be ongoing until USCIS makes a decision on the application)
  • Were lawfully admitted in U status
  • Are in U status when filing their application for adjustment
  • Are not inadmissible due to having participated in Nazi persecution, genocide, or the commission of any act of torture or extrajudicial killing
  • Merit a favorable exercise of discretion
  • Justify their presence in the US on humanitarian grounds, family unity, or public interest


In general, if the previous requirements are met, the person can obtain lawful permanent resident status. It is important to emphasize that this is not automatic but rather discretionary. As such, it is important to show that the person merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

Find an Attorney Who Can Help!

Contact us for assistance with your U-visa application.


10.0Pratibha Kanive Agarwal
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Agarwal Law Group

1100 H Street NW,

Suite 1220

Washington DC 20005