What is the U Visa?

The U visa provides refuge to victims (and their immediate families) who assist law enforcement in investigations into alleged criminal activity.
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by | Last updated May 16, 2019 | Published on Jun 4, 2015 | Immigration

The U Visa provides lawful nonimmigrant status to immigrants in the United States who are victims of certain crimes.

This temporary visa is designed to provide refuge to victims and their immediate families as well as assist law enforcement in their investigation into the alleged criminal activity.

Individuals who have suffered physical, emotional or mental abuse as a result of: domestic violence, abusive sexual contact, blackmail, felonious assault, incest, rape, prostitution, stalking, kidnapping, torture, slave trade/trafficking, murder, manslaughter, or other similar crimes, may seek protection through a U Visa.

The criminal activity endured must have occurred within the United States or, if advocating a similar crime to the list above, it must be considered a crime per U.S. law.


In order to be eligible to apply for a U Visa, USCIS requires you to:

  1. have suffered physical, emotional or mental abuse as a result of one, or more, of the above listed criminal activities;
  2. possess particular knowledge and be willing and able to provide law enforcement information regarding the crime; and
  3. you must be admissible to the United States.

If for any reason you believe you are inadmissible to the United States, USCIS provides a waiver for U Visa Applicants.


U Visas are typically granted for a period of four years.

If you are granted a U Visa you may apply for a green card after three years of continuous presence in the United States.

It is important to note that only 10,000 U Visas are granted each year. USCIS will meet this quote on most years, which means that even if USCIS determines you should be granted a U Visa, you may have to wait an extended period of time before you officially receive your visa.

U Visa applicants may apply for spouses, children, and, when the principal applicant is a minor, they may also apply for parents and unmarried siblings under 18.

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Ben Williams

Ben is a Richmond, Virginia immigration attorney, and a founding partner of Tingen & Williams. Ben leads the firm's immigration practice. Read More.

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