FAQ: U-Visas and Domestic Violence

What is a U-Visa

A U-Visa is a visa granted to victims of domestic violence and other qualifying crimes, who cooperate with the police and prosecution in the investigation and prosecution of the crimes. The purpose of the UVisa is to neutralize fear of deportation on the part of undocumented victims of violent crimes.

What are the other qualifying crimes?

Rape, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, incest, sexual exploitation, kidnapping, false imprisonment, extortion, and felonious assault may also qualify victims for a U-Visa.

What do I need to show to get a U-Visa?

  1. You must be a victim of a qualifying crime in the U.S.;
  2. You must have suffered "substantial physical or mental abuse" as a result of the crime;
  3. You must have been helpful (and continue to be helpful) in the investigation and prosecution of the crime;
  4. You must have the head of the police/sheriff's department, or the prosecutor's office, or a judge to certify that you were helpful to them.

Does the perpetrator of the crime have to be convicted?

No. You may get a U-Visa even if the perpetrator was acquitted or the charges were dismissed.

NOT TRUE! In most cases, you can bond out of state jail and then bond out of ICE custody. Then you can deal with the state charges in state court and the deportation matter in immigration court while free on bond.

Do I have to divorce my spouse or break up with my boyfriend if he is the perpetrator of the crime against me?

No, but you have to cooperate in the investigation and any prosecution of the perpetrator and obtain a law enforcement certification that you did so.

Can my spouse/boyfriend find out if I filed a U-Visa petition?

No, not from a government source. Disclosure of information about a pending U-Visa is prohibited by law.

Can men as well as women apply for a U-Visa?

Yes.

Can I get a U-Visa for family members?

When you apply for a U-Visa, you may apply for your spouse and unmarried children under 21. Victims under 21 may apply for their parents and brothers and sisters who are under 18.

  1. Are you eligible for an immigration benefit;
  2. Do you have a spouse and children in the U.S.; and
  3. Are you considered a danger to the community?

Consult an immigration attorney to determine if you are eligible for an immigration benefit.

How long does the U-Visa last?

Four years. After 3 years, you may apply for permanent residence.

What happens if I don't apply for permanent residence?

At the end of 4 years, the U-Visa expires. You would then be expected to return to your native country.

Do I need a waiver if I have committed past immigration violations?

Yes. Waivers are required if you:

  1. entered the U.S. illegally;
  2. have 181 days or more of unlawful presence and then departed the U.S.;
  3. have illegally re-entered the U.S. after 1 year or more of unlawful presence;
  4. have made false statements to immigration officials;
  5. have made a false claim of U.S. citizenship; or
  6. 6. have any other bar to admission.

Can I get a U-Visa if I have been convicted of a crime?

Yes. You may apply for a waiver even if you have been convicted of a serious crime. You should be prepared to show you have been rehabilitated.

Can I apply for a U-Visa if I am in immigration court or have a deportation order?

Yes.

How do I apply for a U-Visa?

Send Form I-918 with supporting evidence and the law enforcement certification to the Vermont Service Center.

What are the government fees for a U-Visa

The basic petition (Form I-918) has no fee. If you need a waiver, the fee is $585.00. However, you can get a fee waiver if you are in financial distress. If your petition is approved, you will receive work authorization without paying a fee. But, anyone else on your petition will have to pay for the work authorization fee.

Can I travel outside the U.S. on a U-Visa?

Yes. You can travel without getting advance parole. But, it is not a good idea because you must reapply for the U-Visa at a U.S. consulate.

How can an immigration lawyer help me get a U-Visa?

A lawyer can help you:

  • Obtain the records you need;
  • Write the necessary declarations;
  • Organize and present your petition;
  • Persuade the police or prosecutors to certify your petition;
  • Prepare your waiver application;
  • Advocate your case to the immigration service