When I apply for a U visa, can my family members also get U visas? What about a work permit and lawful permanent residence?
If you are a crime victim applying for a U visa, you can also file for U visas for some of your close family members as “derivatives.” If you are over 21, you can include your spouse and unmarried children under 21. If you are under 21, you can include your spouse and unmarried children, as well as your parents and unmarried siblings under 18.1 To read about other possible immigration options for children, go to Aside from filing for my child as a derivative, what other immigration options may be available for my child?
If you filed for your U visa but then got married, you can still include your new spouse as a derivative. If your new spouse has children who were under 18 when you got married, you can include them as well.2
Your family members do not have to be victims of crime or have law enforcement certifications. They must show, however, that they are not prohibited (barred) from getting status due to the “grounds of inadmissibility,” which is a long list of crimes and other acts that prevent people from getting status or entering the U.S. Note: If one of these barriers does apply to your family members, they must ask for a “waiver.” It is up to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to decide whether your family members should get that waiver after weighing the pros and cons of their case.
If USCIS approves your family members’ U visas and your family members are in the United States, they will receive U visa status for four years. They will also receive a work permit for four years, and they can apply for lawful permanent residence after three years. If your family members are outside of the United States when the government approves their U visas, they will need to get permission to enter the United States from a U.S. embassy or consulate. Once they enter the United States, they can apply for a four-year work permit. Three years after they enter, they can apply for lawful permanent residence.
Importantly, after you get your U visa, you will not want to apply for lawful permanent residence until all of the family members whom you want to include have gotten their U visas and arrived in the United States, if they were not already here. If you become a permanent resident before their U visas are approved or before they arrive, they will lose their ability to get U visas. If you are concerned that your U visa status may expire before all of your family members have arrived, you should talk to an attorney to see if you can extend your U visa status beyond the normal four years until your family gets to the U.S. on their own U visas and then you can apply for lawful permanent residence.
Note: Here you can see our series of vlogs (videos) in Spanish, with English subtitles, where we discuss what other people you can include on your U visa petition as derivative family members, among other topics.
1 INA § 101(a)(15)(U)(ii)
2USCIS Policy Manual, Vol. 3, Part C, Chp 2.B