Visas for Victims of Criminal Activity

Visas for Victims of Criminal Activity

Victims of certain criminal activities that either occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws may be eligible to petition for U non-immigrant status to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Victims must have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the criminal activity and possess information concerning that criminal activity. Law enforcement authorities must also certify that the victim has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

What is the difference between U non-immigrant status and a U-1 non-immigrant visa?

In order to receive U-1 non-immigrant status, you must be eligible and you must comply with the application requirements set forth by USCIS. USCIS approves U non-immigrant petitions both for people who are in the United States and for those abroad. Individuals already present in the United States who have an approved petition are immediately granted U non-immigrant status by USCIS.

Individuals overseas who have approved U visa petitions, or who already have U non-immigrant status and have traveled overseas, are required to apply for a U visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If issued a U visa, the individual will be in U non-immigrant status after entering the United States.

If you are overseas and wish to apply for U-1 non-immigrant status, first you must petition directly to the USCIS Vermont Service Center. U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad are not permitted to accept petitions for U non-immigrant status. Once the petition is approved, you may apply for a visa.

If you already have U-1 non-immigrant status granted by USCIS but have traveled outside the United States, you must apply for and be issued a U visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for re-entry to the United States. Learn more.

If you are a qualifying family member of a victim with U-1 non-immigrant status and you are outside the United States, first you must receive a USCIS Form I-797, Notice of Action, stating your petition has been approved. Then you must schedule your U visa appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a visa.


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