The purpose of the U visa is to give victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States for up to 4 years. There are four statutory eligibility requirements.
- The individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
- The individual must have information concerning that criminal activity.
- The individual must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- The criminal activity violated U.S. laws
The applicant for a U visa must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to a criminal activity in at least one of the following categories: rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, hostage situations, peonage, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, 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.
There are many benefits that come with obtaining a U Visa. At the time the petition is approved, you will be authorized for employment, and USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document as evidence. Derivative family members of the victim also receive employment authorization, but will have to apply for the Document for a fee. The most important benefit is that the U Visa may independently file for a green card through adjustment of status after being physically present in the US for 3 years since the U visa was granted.