The U visa application process

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Here’s more information about how the process of obtaining a U visa works:

Required documents:

  • 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.

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