The U visa is designed for noncitizen crime victims who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse flowing from criminal activity and who have cooperated with government officials investigating or prosecuting such criminal activity. To qualify for a U visa, a noncitizen must:
1) Show that he or she has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as the result of one of the following forms of criminal activity:
Rape; torture; trafficking; incest; domestic violence; sexual assault; abusive sexual contact; prostitution; sexual exploitation; female genital mutilation; being held hostage; peonage; involuntary servitude; slave trade; kidnapping; abduction; unlawful criminal restraint; false imprisonment; blackmail; extortion; manslaughter; murder; felonious assault; witness tampering; obstruction of justice; perjury; or attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes;
2) Show that he or she possesses information concerning the criminal activity; and
3) Provide a certification from a federal, state or local law enforcement official prosecutor, judge or authority investigating criminal activity designated in the statute that states that the U visa applicant is being, has been or is likely to be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the designated criminal activity.
Spouses, children and parents are not derivatives but must self-petition themselves. There is a slightly higher standard for approval. A designated government official must certify that an investigation or prosecution would be harmed without the assistance of the qualifying relative, and the Department of Homeland Security must determine that the qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if he or she does not receive a U visa.
It is possible for someone receiving a U visa to qualify for lawful permanent residence if they were admitted under a nonimmigrant status such as a tourist visa; did not participate in Nazi persecution nor engage in genocide; have been physically present in the United States for at least three years since receiving their U visa; and humanitarian grounds, family unity or the public interest justify their continued presence in the United States.
If you know of anyone who might qualify under a U visa, please feel free to contact our office.