After I apply for a U visa, when will I get a work permit and lawful permanent residence (a green card)?
It will take years for you to get a work permit after you apply for a U visa. If you ultimately get U visa status, you will immediately get a four-year work permit because the U visa lasts for four years.1 In rare cases, the U visa status can be extended beyond four years but only if additional time is necessary due to “exceptional circumstances” or if the certifying agency provides a new certification specifically stating that your presence in the U.S. is still required, beyond the four years, to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.2 Here is an example of an “exceptional circumstance” that could qualify you to extend your U visa beyond four years: If your family members are outside of the U.S. when your U visa is approved, they will need to get permission from the U.S. embassy or consulate before coming to the U.S. This process (“consular processing”) can take a long time. If they cannot come to the U.S. before your U visa status expires, you may need to ask USCIS to extend your status because you must still have a valid U visa when your family members arrive.3
After three years in U visa status, you can apply for lawful permanent residence (your “green card”).
1 INA § 214(p)(3)(B)
2 INA § 214(p)(6)
3 See generally, AFM 39.1(g)(2)(A); USCIS PM-602-0032.2, “Extension of Status for T and U Nonimmigrants (Corrected and Reissued),” October 4, 2016