If my U visa application gets approved, when can I get lawful permanent residence (a green card)?
You can apply for lawful permanent residence after you have had your U visa for three years and before your U visa expires.1 To get lawful permanent residence, all of the following must be true:
- You have been physically in the U.S. for a “continuous period” of at least three years since the date you got U visa status. A “continuous period” means that you cannot leave the U.S. for 90 days in a row or for 180 days in total over the three years, unless the reason you left was related to the criminal investigation or prosecution. (If your U visa was granted when you were outside of the U.S., the three years starts from the day that you come into the U.S. with a U visa.)
- If law enforcement asked you for more help related to the criminal investigation or prosecution since you got your U visa, you did not unreasonably refuse to provide that help.
- Your continued presence in the US is “justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or it is in the public interest.”2 USCIS will weigh the pros and cons of your case in deciding whether to approve your green card. Generally, if you do not have any negative factors, such as criminal history or significant immigration violations, it will be considered “in the public interest” for you to continue to be in the U.S. and so USCIS will likely approve your green card application.3 If you do have negative factors in your case, USCIS will weigh them as “cons” in deciding your case.
After you file your application for permanent residence, you will need to wait for USCIS to make its decision, which could take as long as two years. While you wait for the decision, USCIS will extend your U visa status, and you can apply for or renew your work permit.4
1 INA § 245(m); 8 CFR § 245.24(b)
2 INA § 245(m)(1), (m)(2); 8 CFR § 245.24(b), (c)
3 See Matter of Arai, 13 I&N Dec. 494 (BIA 1970) (“In the absence of adverse factors, adjustment will ordinarily be granted, still as a matter of discretion”)
4 INA § 214(p)(6); 8 CFR § 274a.12(c)(9)