U Nonimmigrant Status

U Nonimmigrant Visa Status for Victims of Criminal Activity

The U Nonimmigrant Status/Visa covers foreign nationals who have been a witness to a crime or have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a victim of a crime in the United States. The U nonimmigrant status/visa was implemented with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act for the purpose of assisting law enforcement or government officials in an ongoing investigation or for the prosecution of certain crimes. There is a limit on the number of U visas that may be issued to applicants, this limitation is also known as a “cap”. Only 10,000 U visas may be issued to each applicant per year. Family members of applicants are covered under the U visa classification. There is no cap on U visas granted to family members entitled to derivative status as a result of the principal applicant’s U status. Such family members include spouses and unmarried minor children of the principal applicant. The U nonimmigrant status is valid for a four-year period; however, applicants may request extensions in limited circumstances such as at the request of law enforcement or while a green card application is in process. U visa petitions are filed with and processed by the Vermont Service Center. There is no fee associated with the filing of a U visa petition. Witnesses and victims of crimes may benefit from U nonimmigrant visa status if they are willing to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of certain crimes including but not limited to:

  • Abduction

  • Abusive Sexual Contact

  • Attempted Crimes

  • Blackmail

  • Conspiracy

  • Domestic Violence

  • Extortion

  • False Imprisonment

  • Female Genital Mutilation

  • Felonious Assault

  • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting

  • Incest

  • Involuntary Servitude

  • Kidnapping

  • Manslaughter

  • Murder

  • Obstruction of Justice

  • Peonage

  • Perjury

  • Prostitution

  • Rape

  • Sexual Assault

  • Sexual Exploitation

  • Slave Trade

  • Solicitation

  • Stalking

  • Torture

  • Trafficking

  • Witness Tampering

  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint


Individuals May Qualify for U Nonimmigrant Status if:

  • They are the victim of qualifying criminal activity in the United States.
  • They suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity in the United States.
  • They possess pertinent information about criminal activity.
  • They were helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
  • A Federal, State or local government official investigating or prosecuting a qualifying criminal activity certifies using Form I-198 Supplement B that you have been, are or are likely to be helpful to the official in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal act.
  • The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
  • Any individual seeking U Nonimmigrant Status must be admissible to the United States prior to the criminal act. If they are inadmissible, they must request a waiver by filing USCIS Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.

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U Derivative Status for Dependents

Family members may be eligible to obtain derivative U visa status based on their relationship to the principal petitioner. Family members of a principal U-1 petitioner will not receive derivative status until the principal's U-1 petition has been approved. They must file USCIS Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient to petition for a qualified family member.

Application Process

There are two (2) ways to apply for U Nonimmigrant Status. If a foreign national is living inside of the United States, they may file a form I-918 along with Supplement B, and other supporting evidence with the Vermont Service Center. If a foreign national is living outside of the United States, they would need to file Form I-918 and Supplement B application with the Vermont Service Center.

Supporting Documents

The following is a list of some supporting documents that may be required when filing form, I-918 Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status and Supplement B based on U status:

  • Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status.
  • Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification must be signed by an authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency, and the official must confirm that you were helpful, and currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case.
  • Form I-918 Supplement A Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient must be submitted for each family member who would like to petition to receive derivative U status.

Along with Form I-918 Supplement B, applicants must establish that they have been, or will be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the illicit activity A certified official may attest to this fact by completing Supplement B. Additional evidence may be provided in support of Supplement B including evidence of the foreign national being the victim of a qualifying criminal activity. They must demonstrate that they have suffered direct and proximate harm as a result of the commission of the criminal act of which they were a witness or victim. Such evidence of the crime includes:

  • Trial Transcripts

  • Court Documents

  • Police Reports

  • News Articles

  • Affidavits

  • Orders of Protection

Evidence that the foreign national has suffered substantial and physical or mental abuse focusing specifically on the nature and severity of the abuse including the:

  • Nature of the Injury

  • Severity of the perpetrator's conduct

  • Severity of the harm suffered

  • duration of the infliction of harm

  • extent of the permanent or serious harm to their appearance, health, physical or mental soundness.

If the criminal activity occurred as a series of acts or repeated occurrences over time, applicants must document the pattern of abuse over time. USCIS will consider abuse in its totality especially in situations where “a series of acts taken together may be considered to have caused substantial physical or mental abuse even where no single act alone rises to that level.” Foreign nationals may provide the following evidence to demonstrate such a pattern of abuse:

  • Reports and/or affidavits from judges and other court officials, medical personnel, school officials, clergy, social workers, and other social service personnel.

  • Orders of protection and related legal documents.

  • Photos of visible injuries supported by affidavits.

  • Affidavits from witnesses, acquaintances, or family members with personal knowledge of the facts involving the criminal activity.

If the criminal activity caused the aggravation of a pre-existing physical or mental injury, the aggravation will be evaluated in terms of whether the harm constitutes substantial physical or mental abuse.

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Evidence of Helpfulness

Applicants must demonstrate they possess knowledge of details involving the criminal activity, necessary to assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of that illicit activity. To fulfill this requirement, applicants may provide reports and affidavits from the police, judges, and other court officials. Such evidence should supplement Form I-918 Supplement B. If the applicant is under 16 years of age, is incapacitated, or incompetent, the applicant’s parent, guardian, or next friend can provide this information on their behalf. Documents must be provided confirming the age of the victim, and evidence of their incapacity or incompetence by providing a copy of the victim’s birth certificate, court documents establishing the ‘next friend’ as the authorized representative, medical records, and reports from licensed medical professionals attesting to the incapacity or incompetence of the victim.

qualifying criminal activity

It is the applicant's responsibility to submit documentation proving that the criminal activity:

a) Is included in the list of qualifying criminal activities; and

b) The criminal activity violated U.S. federal laws.

Applicants must file Form I-918 Supplement B to establish this requirement and provide the following supporting evidence:

  • Copy of the statutory provision(s) showing the elements of the offense or factual information about the criminal activity demonstrating that the criminal activity qualifies for U status.

  • If the crime occurred outside of the US, they must provide a copy of the statutory provision for extraterritorial jurisdiction and documentation that the criminal activity violates federal law.

Personal statement

Applicants will need to provide a personal statement describing the qualifying criminal activity that they witnessed in great detail or that they were a victim of including the following:

  • The nature of the criminal activity.
  • When the criminal activity occurred.
  • Who was responsible.
  • The events surrounding the criminal activity.
  • How the criminal activity came to be investigated or prosecuted; and
  • What substantial physical or mental abuse they suffered as a result of the victimization.