I’ve Filed for My U-Visa; What About My Family?
So you’ve read the previous entries about the U nonimmigrant visa’s eligibility requirements and the application process, and are just about ready to file an application, but you have just a few more questions. Even if you don’t have any specific questions, here is a bit more information that can help you throughout the application process.
As with many types of visas, there is a cap on the amount of U nonimmigrant visas that the USCIS can award. Each fiscal year, the USCIS is allowed to grant up to 10,000 U-1 nonimmigrant visas. The fiscal year runs starts on October 1, so if it is the middle of August or September, there is a good chance that the number of visas has been met, but it never hurts to check, especially since the filing is free if you file a Form I-912.
The limit on the number of visas does not apply to any dependents or family members that will be traveling to the United States with an individual who has been awarded a U visa. If it is close to October 1, and when you file, you find out the limit has been reached, then the USCIS will formulate a waiting list that law enforcement agencies can use to cooperate with the foreign national and help to further stabilize their immigration status. In addition, any U visa filer who is on the waiting list will be awarded parole or deferred action as long as they remain on the list, which allows the individual to be eligible for employment authorization, and to travel until the next fiscal year when their petitions for U visa can be processed.
There are certain rules related to family members of foreign nationals that are applying for a U visa. While many types of visas allow family members to travel along with the visa holder, the U visa allows dependents to (under special circumstances) obtain a U nonimmigrant derivative visa. If a family member qualifies, then the main petitioner will be required to file a Form I-918 Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient, on behalf of the family member.
There are even special rules that will allow an individual awarded a U visa to apply for (and be approved for) a green card, denoting permanent residence. In order to qualify for a green card, the individual U visa holder must:
- Have lived in the United States for at least 3 years continuously since they were awarded U nonimmigrant status
- Have not ever refused to provide assistance to any law enforcement offices requesting their help at any time since receiving U visa status
- Have had it determined on their behalf (by their certifying agency) that remaining in the United States would be the best course of action (from a humanitarian standpoint) for either the health of their family or for public or national interests
Family members of an individual that was awarded a U visa can even be eligible for a green card, even if they themselves never had a U nonimmigrant derivative visa. The requirements are essentially the same for the principle U visa holder, as the derivative holders and/or non-visa holders.
As always, please contact an immigration attorney with any specific questions, and they will be able to provide you with sound legal advice which pertains to your exact case