Here’s more information about how the process of obtaining a U visa works:
- Application form (I-918)
- Law enforcement certification
- Letter explaining why applicants entered the United States and why they deserve to stay
- “Declaration,” describing the crime in detail — whether a hit was with a closed hand or an open hand, what tone of voice the perpetrator used, what was said, who called the police
- If applicants have a criminal history, whether DWI or assault charges, they must also include letters from friends and community members saying they’re upstanding citizens.
- Work permit application, if desired
- Fee waivers, for example, to forgo fees related to work permit applications ($465)
Who the visa covers:
- If the victim is under 21: parents, spouse, children and unmarried siblings under age 18
- If the victim is over 21 years old: spouse and children
- Prior deportations and criminal history don’t necessarily disqualify applicants.
Once the application is received:
- U.S. Customs and Immigration Services give families a temporary permit protecting them from deportation while officials review the visa application.
- Applicants are unable to work and limited in travel during this time.
Once the application is approved:
- The visa is valid for four years.
- After three years, another certification from law enforcement is required to apply for a green card unless the victim has since committed a crime.
- Visa holders can’t leave the country during those three years.
- All eligible family members qualify for work visas.