What is a U visa? How can it help me?
Congress created U visa status in 2000 to help crime victims. The purpose of the U visa is to encourage victims of crime to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute crimes without the fear of being deported.1 The U visa doesn’t cover all crimes but it does include domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and felony assault, among other crimes.2
If you get a U visa, you will get a work permit (“Employment Authorization Document”)3 and the ability to apply for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) after three years.4 After five years as a legal permanent resident, you can apply for citizenship (naturalization), assuming that you meet all of the other citizenship requirements.5
1New Classification for Victims of Criminal Activity; Eligibility for ‘‘U’’ Nonimmigrant Status, 72 Fed. Reg. 53014 (September 17, 2007)
2 INA § 101(a)(15)(U)(iii)
3 INA § 214(p)(3)(B)
4 INA § 245(m)
5 INA § 316