U-1: Victim of Criminal Activity
The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens, and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve victims of crimes.
If approved, the U-1 visa provides the victim with:
• Temporary immigration status including work authorization;
• Temporary immigration status for qualifying family members of the victim; and
• The possibility of lawful permanent resident status.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), decides if a person is eligible for a U visa. Law enforcement does not determine who is eligible for a U visa; however, law enforcement provides information so that USCIS can determine if the person:
• Is a victim of a qualifying crime or criminal activity;
• Has information about the crime or criminal activity; and
• Is, was, or is likely to be helpful in the detection or investigation of the qualifying crime or criminal activity, or the prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of the perpetrator of the qualifying crime or criminal activity.