Who Qualifies for a U-Visa?

Who Qualifies for a U-Visa?

U-visas are issued to victims of crime who have suffered physical or mental abuse as a result. However, the applicant must be willing to help law enforcement to initially qualify for the visa, meaning it isn’t open to all crime victims.

Let us take a deeper look at who qualifies for a U-visa based on the individual and type of crime.

What is a U-Visa?

As mentioned, a U-visa covers victims of crimes who assist law enforcement. It was created in 2000 under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act to offer protection to victims willing to help with investigations.

It provides the following benefits, such as:

·  Up to 4 years of lawful status

·  Work authorization

·  Eligibility for adjustment of status after 3 years of physical residence in the United States

One of the main reasons for creating this visa category is to give immigrants a greater feeling of safety in reporting crimes and helping with investigations. Without U-visa protection, an undocumented immigrant could be deported for reporting a crime, making it a less-than-desirable idea.

Who Qualifies for a U-Visa?

Not all victims of crime qualify for a U-visa. Along with personal circumstances, the nature of the crime affects eligibility. For example, if the person were a victim of human trafficking, this would be covered under a different visa category.

However, U-visa eligibility extends to direct victims and their families, bystander victims of a crime, and other indirect crime victims.

The criteria for U-visa application are:

·  That the person was or is a victim of a qualifying criminal activity, as defined by USCIS

·  Being a victim involved personal mental or physical suffering

·  The crime happened in the USA or its territories or violates US law

·  The victim can provide information about the crime under investigation

·  By extension, the victim can help law enforcement, which is proven with a Law Enforcement Certification

·  The victim is admissible to the United States. If not, they must speak to an immigration lawyer about how to proceed by requesting a waiver

As with other nonimmigrant visas, the primary visa issued covers the applicant. However, family members may be eligible for visas, too, such as the U-2, U-3, and U-4. These cover spouses, children, and parents, respectively.

Inadmissibility for U-Visas

All visa applications have some level of admissibility, meaning whether the applicant is permitted to enter or remain in the country. While this is still true for U-visa applicants, there is considerably more flexibility due to the applicant being the victim of a crime.

U-visa holders can still be inadmissible under INA 212(a)(3)(E), which includes membership to the Nazi party, participation in Nazi persecution, and involvement in genocide and torture.

Crimes that Qualify for a U-Visa

To qualify for a U-visa application, the crime in question must be perpetrated against an immigrant or involve them in a manner against their will. These could be crimes at a federal, state or local level.

The following list is not exhaustive, as USCIS will consider crimes it believes to be substantially similar. This list is designed to give you an overview of what crimes qualify for a U-visa application.

Some qualifying crimes include:

·  Torture

·  Extortion

·  Domestic violence

·  Rape

·  Sexual assault

·  Abduction

·  False imprisonment

·  Involuntary servitude

·  Prostitution

·  Murder

·  Manslaughter

·  Kidnapping/hostage-taking

·  Perjury

·  Peonage (debt slavery)

As you can imagine, undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable to crimes involving sexual or labor exploitation. The nature of their presence in the United States means it is usually more difficult for them to approach law enforcement or seek help in these situations. However, this is the point of the U-visa: to offer them greater protection from potential deportation or incarceration. 

Note that an attempt to commit one of the protected U-visa crimes also counts as a protected crime.  

Law Enforcement Certification

To apply for a U-visa, one is expected to obtain a Law Enforcement Certification, known formally as Form I-918B. This form is signed by a member of law enforcement as a legal declaration that the victim is willing to cooperate in their investigation.


The form covers both past and future assistance depending on how far along the investigation is. While the idea of getting the form signed by a law enforcement agent might seem challenging, this is where a qualified immigration attorney comes in. They will be able to arrange everything on the victim’s behalf and ensure all forms are completed correctly.

Applying for a U-Visa with San Diego Immigration Law Office


If you believe you qualify for a U-visa as the victim of a crime, reach out to San Diego Immigration Law Office. As qualified immigration attorneys, we can advise in detail about your eligibility and application process.

You can book a consultation on our website to begin the conversation, and we can assist with every step of the application.

So, if you would like to know more about U-visas and your eligibility, contact San Diego Immigration Law Office today.