U Nonimmigrant Visa for Victims of Crimes
By Reuben Seguritan
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has just released a law enforcement resource guide to assist law enforcement in issuing certifications to help victims of crimes obtain a U visa.
The U nonimmigrant visa (U visa) is granted to 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. Some Filipinos who have been victims of crimes committed by labor recruiters have successfully obtained a U visa in the past.
The requirements for the U visa are: 1. Petitioner is the victim of qualifying criminal activity; 2. He has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity; 3. He has information about the criminal activity; 4. He was helpful, is helpful, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If petitioner is under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on petitioner’s behalf; 5. The crime occurred in the United States or violated US laws and; 6. Petitioner is admissible to the US. If petitioner is not admissible, he may apply for a waiver by submitting Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant. If the petitioner is culpable for the qualifying criminal activity being investigated or prosecuted, then his petition will be denied.
The victims of the following qualifying criminal activity may apply for the U visa: Abduction, Abusive Sexual Contact, Blackmail, Domestic Violence, Extortion, False Imprisonment, Female Genital Mutilation, Felonious Assault, Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting, Hostage, Incest, Involuntary Servitude, Kidnapping, Manslaughter, Murder, Obstruction of Justice, Peonage, Perjury, Prostitution, Rape, Sexual Assault, Sexual Exploitation, Slave Trade, Stalking, Torture, Trafficking, Witness Tampering, Unlawful Criminal Restraint and Other Related Crimes. If the crime involved is not one of the qualifying crimes, the victim can still apply for the U visa if the crime can fall under one of the qualifying crimes. For example, the victim of child abuse or elder abuse could file as a victim of domestic violence if the perpetrator and victim relationship and the abuse experienced by the victim meets the statutory elements of domestic violence.
To apply for the U visa, the petitioner must submit: 1. Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status; 2. Form I-918, Supplement B (Form I-918B), U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. This Form I-918B must be signed by an authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency, and the official must confirm that petitioner was helpful, and currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case; 3. A personal statement from petitioner describing the criminal activity which he was a victim of; and 4. Evidence to establish each of the requirements. The U visa petitioner/ victim has a continuing responsibility to assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution related to the qualifying criminal activity, even after the Form I-918B has been signed and submitted to the USCIS and even after the U visa has been issued. The certifying agency will not sign the Form I-918 Supplement B if the victim does not continue to comply with his responsibility to assist and be helpful to law enforcement after reasonable requests for assistance, or disavow the form already signed and submitted.