U Visas Lawyers

U-1 Visas: Immigration Relief for Victims of Criminal Activity

The U-1 is a nonimmigrant visa issued to victims of certain crimes who have suffered physical or psychological abuse, and have cooperated with authorities in the investigation or prosecution of those crimes. The U-1 Visa has been created to protect victims of criminal activity and help them rebuild their lives in the United States.

What are the Benefits of the U Visa?

If your U visa is approved, you will be able to work legally in the U.S. for four years. Your spouse and children under the age of 21 may accompany you. Best of all, after three years in the U.S. on a U-1 Visa, you can apply for permanent residency.

U-1 Visa Eligibility Criteria

The main requirement to be eligible for the U-1 Visa is to have suffered a qualifying crime, have information about the crime, and be willing to cooperate with the authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. However, there are other factors to consider:

  • The victim was, is, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
  • The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. law.
  • If the victim is under 16 years of age or unable to provide the information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may provide the information about the crime on their behalf.
  • The victim is admissible to the United States. Inadmissible victims must file a waiver.


U Visa Lawyer in Orlando Helps Victims of Criminal Activity with Their Immigration Status

Qualifying Criminal Activities

Among the qualifying criminal activities are:

  • Abduction
  • Abusive Sexual Contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False Imprisonment / Kidnapping / Hostage
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Felonious Assault
  • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
  • Incest
  • Involuntary Servitude
  • Manslaughter / Murder
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape / Sexual Assault;
  • Sexual Exploitation / Slave Trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Witness Tampering
  • Unlawful Criminal Restraint

It also applies to attempt, conspiracy, or incitement to commit any of the above and related offenses, including any activity in which the elements of the offense are substantially similar.

Can I Extend the Duration of my U-1 Visa?

Yes! Usually, the U visa has a duration of four years, but you can apply for an extension if you meet any of these criteria:

  • Law enforcement requested an extension
  • Exceptional circumstances
  • Needed due to delays in consular processing
  • Automatically extended upon the filing and pendency of an application for adjustment (Green Card).

If you believe your case merits an extension, contact us through the form at the bottom of the page and we will be happy to guide you.

Is There a Cap on the Number of U-1 Visas?

Only 10,000 principal applicants receive this type of visa each year. However, there is no limit for family members deriving status from the principal applicant, such as spouses, children, or other eligible family members.

If the limit is reached before all petitions are adjudicated, USCIS will create a waiting list for principal or derivative petitioners who are still waiting for a response.

U-1 Visa Application Process Step by Step

  1. You must have been a victim of a qualifying crime; suffered physical or psychological harm as a result of the crime; and cooperated with authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the crime
  2. A government or law enforcement agency must certify your cooperation in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
  3. Complete Form I-918 and submit your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  4. Provide the required documentation such as evidence of the crime, evidence of cooperation, and evidence of physical or psychological harm.
  5. Complete a medical exam to demonstrate that you are not a threat to public health in the United States.
  6. Prepare for a consular interview if your application is approved. Make sure to have all necessary documents and answer truthfully and completely.
  7. If your application is approved, you will receive a work permit. It will allow you to legally work in the United States for the duration of the visa.
  8. If you need to stay over four years, you must apply for an extension of your visa.
  9. After three years in the United States with a U-1 Visa, you can apply for a green card.

It is important to note that applying for a U-1 Visa can be complicated and time-consuming. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney to support you through the process. Frank Symphorien-Saavedra, our founder attorney, is Board Certified as expert in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Florida Bar and has helped many victims of criminal activity obtain their U visa over the years.

How Long Does it Take to Process a U-1 Visa?

Obtaining a U visa takes a long time since they are closely related to criminal investigations. USCIS can take 12 to 18 months to process and approve a U-1 Visa, however, these timelines can be extended significantly depending on the case.

Family Members Eligible for Derivative U Status

Immediate family members of the U-1 visa holder may benefit from the status and receive a derivative U visa from categories 2 to 5, depending on their relationship.

U-2 Visa for spouses

The spouse of a U-1 visa holder may apply for a derivative U-2 visa. They may also be included in the U-1 visa holder's application if they are already married at the time of application.

U-3 Visa for unmarried children under 21 years old

Unmarried children under 21 years old of a U-1 visa holder are eligible to apply for a derivative U-3 visa.

U-4 Visa for parents

If the U-1 visa holder is under 21 years old, their parents may also be eligible to apply for a derivative U-4 visa.

U-5 Visa for unmarried siblings under 18 years old

For siblings to qualify for a derivative U-5 visa, the U-1 visa holder must be under 21 years old.

Let our specialized Orlando Immigration Lawyers help you

Our team of attorneys, including Frank Symphorien-Saavedra who is certified as an expert in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Florida Bar, is ready to guide you through the entire U visa process. Call us today at 407-802-1717, or fill out the online form provided on this page and we will contact you shortly.

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Orlando Immigration Lawyer - Frank Symphorien-Saavedra

Symphorien-Saavedra Law, P.A. is a diverse team of immigrants who are dedicated to helping immigrants, small businesses, and investors.

(*) This information is provided for general purposes and is not a substitute for individualized advice. You should schedule a consultation to discuss your particular situation.