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August 15, 2022

Can I apply for a U visa from another country? What are the obstacles?

You are not required to be in the U.S. to qualify for a U visa, although the crime must have taken place within the U.S., or the crime violated a U.S. federal law that specifically allows the U.S. to prosecute crimes committed in another country.1 However, it is very hard to successfully apply for U visa status from outside of the country, mainly because you will need the help of an attorney who knows U visas and most of those attorneys are in the U.S. You may also have difficulty proving that you are helping in the investigation or prosecution of the crime from outside the U.S.

If you apply from abroad, you will be eligible to apply for a work permit only after your U visa petition is granted and you enter the U.S. with a U visa.2

When USCIS approves a U visa petition, you don’t get an actual visa that you can use for travel. So, if your U visa petition is approved while you are outside of the U.S., you will need to apply for an actual visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy to enter the U.S.3

If you are already in the U.S. and planning to leave and apply for a U visa from another country, please talk to an immigration attorney before leaving the U.S. In addition to new forms that you may have to file, you probably cannot come back into the U.S. until your U visa is approved.

Before you leave, or if you are already abroad, your attorney should consult with a national organization with expertise in U visas such as ASISTA on this process or another national organization on our National Organizations - Immigration page. Many consulates are still unfamiliar with the U visa and may give inaccurate information to those seeking a U visa from abroad.

1 USCIS website – Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status
2 8 CFR § 214.14(c)(7), (f)(7)
3 8 CFR § 214.14(c)(5)(i)(B)