Can I apply for U visa status from another country?
Yes. You are not required to be physically present in the U.S. to qualify for U visa status.1 However, the criminal activity you were a victim of must have:
- violated U.S. law; or
- occurred in the U.S. (including Native American tribal lands (called “Indian country” in the law) and military installations) or the territories and possessions of the U.S.;2 or
- violated a U.S. federal law but the law allows for the criminal to be prosecuted in U.S. federal court (known as “extraterritorial jurisdiction”).3
Practically, however, it may be more difficult to navigate the process from another country. Regardless of where you are applying from, the U.S. or abroad, a special unit of the USCIS in Vermont will process your application. If your U visa status application is approved while you are abroad (or if it was approved while you were in the U.S. and then you left the U.S.), you will need to apply for an actual U visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy to enter the U.S.4 (Remember that the actual name for U visa status is U nonimmigrant status and getting this status doesn’t initially involve receiving an actual visa.) See I have U visa status, but never received an actual visa. How do I get one? for more information on getting an actual visa.
Your attorney should consult with a national organization with expertise in U visas such as ASISTA on this process, since many consulates are still unfamiliar with the U visa and may give inaccurate information to those processing abroad. Other national organizations can be found on our Immigration page.
1USCIS website – Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status
2 INA § 101(a)(15)(U)(i)(IV)
3 8 CFR § 214.14(b)(4)
4Cable, DOS, 10-State-017736 (Feb. 2010)