I’ve Read the Requirements, Now How Do I Apply for U Visa?
If you’ve read the previous few entries or are otherwise familiar with the process, then you know the eligibility requirements for the U nonimmigrant visa (U visa). If after reading the requirements, you believe you would be approved for a U visa, then this entry is for you.
In order to apply for the U visa, there are a few special rules. If you are a foreign national and were the victim of a qualifying crime, then you must file a Form I-918 Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. The form will ask questions to obtain information about your eligibility for the U visa, as well as your admissibility to the U.S. As of right now, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has determined that their Vermont Service Center is the location to receive all U visa petitions.
Most visa applications have fees associated with them, but the U visa petition does not. The program is directly related to individuals’ well-being, and the USCIS decided to waive all fees as a humanitarian gesture, with the filing of one form. As a petitioner for a U visa, you are entitled to request a Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, which will waive the fee for any and all forms associated. You do not have to submit that form if you don’t mind paying the fees, but there is no reason not to file a Form I-912.
Be careful in requesting this U nonimmigrant status, however. It cannot be claimed by just anyone that has, at some point, been the victim of a crime. As stated in a previous entry, the petition you file must also be accompanied by a Form I-918 Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification, which is a form provided by a United States law enforcement agency, demonstrating that the petitioner “has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful” at a future date, in ongoing investigations related directly to the crime.
There are a good number of law enforcement agencies that are qualified to provide this Form I-918, such as the Equal Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, child protective services, FBI, or any local law enforcement agency. Basically, if an agency was involved in the investigation of a qualifying crime, then they are likely able to provide this form for you. It never hurts to ask.
A popular question related to the U visa status is how long the classification is valid for. Extensions are available, but the standard U nonimmigrant visa is eligible for up to, but not exceeding, 4 years. Extensions can be awarded by any law enforcement agency that requires the foreign national’s physical presence to help investigate the crime and prosecute those arrested as a result.
It may seem like it is necessary to be physically in the United States to file for the U visa, but fortunately, that is not true. A foreign national can file for U nonimmigrant status either from inside or outside the borders of the U.S. If the foreign national is not currently able to travel into the United States, a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant, must be filed, and must be approved by the USCIS office in Vermont before the U visa process can continue.
If you have any further inquiries about the topics brought up in this post, please contact an immigration attorney immediately to obtain legal advice pertaining to your exact situation.