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Know the Laws:

UPDATED April 23, 2013

U Visa Laws for Crime Victims

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This page includes information about obtaining lawful status if you are the victim of certain crimes (including domestic abuse) and can obtain a certification that you are, have been or will be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.

Benefits of U visa status

back to topHow long does U visa status last?

If your U visa status application is approved, you will be able to be in the U.S. lawfully with your U visa status for up to four years.*  After three years with U visa status in the U.S., you will be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (commonly called a “green card”) if you meet all of the necessary requirements.**

The four years of U visa status may be extended if the law enforcement agency that fills out the certification confirms that your presence in the U.S. is required to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.  The four years may also be extended if the additional time is necessary due to exceptional circumstances.***

* INA § 214(o)(7)(A)
** INA § 245(m)
*** INA § 214(o)(7)(B)

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back to topCan I get lawful permanent residence (a green card) if my U visa status application is approved?

If your U visa status application has been approved, you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident later on.*  If you apply for lawful permanent residence, you may receive it if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • You have been physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least 3 years since the date you were admitted under U visa status;
    • The continuous physical presence is broken if you are outside of the U.S. for 90 days in a row or 180 days in total, unless:
      • the absence was necessary to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; or
      • if the law enforcement official investigating or prosecuting the crime certifies that the absence was justified;
  • You were lawfully admitted to the U.S. as a principal or derivative with U visa status;
  • You continue to have U visa status at the time you apply for lawful permanent residence (the U visa status has never been revoked);
  • You are not inadmissible due to your participation in Nazi persecution, genocide, or as someone who committed an act of torture or an extrajudicial killing;
  • After receiving U visa status, you have not unreasonably refused to provide assistance to an official or law enforcement agency investigating or prosecuting the person(s) who committed the crime that made you eligible for U visa status; and
  • Your continued presence in the U.S. is justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or it is in the “public interest.”**
* INA § 245(m)
** INA § 245(m)(1),(2); 8 CFR § 245.24(b),(c)

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back to topCan I get a work permit if my U visa status application is approved?

Yes.  When you apply for a U visa as a principal applicant or as a derivative family member, you can get a four-year work permit once your U visa has been granted.*  However, you can get a work permit even before you get your U visa once your application is considered “approvable” and you are placed on the U visa waitlist (based on deferred action) – this usually takes about 2 ½ years to from the time you apply until you may be put on the waitlist.**  During that approximately 2 ½ year wait, you will not have a work permit. 

Note: If you are a principal applicant or a derivative applicant and you applied from abroad, you will be eligible to apply for a work permit only after you enter the U.S. once your U visa is granted.***

* INA § 214(p)(3)(B)
** Time approximation to get on waitlist is accurate as of 11/2016 as per ASISTA
** 8 CFR § 214.14(c)(7), (f)(7)

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