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What is a U Visa?


When looking into U.S. immigration laws and policies, you may come across something called a U Visa. This type of immigration visa is lesser-known than some of the other types of visas that immigrants to the United States can apply for, but it is a very important one. If you or a loved one qualifies for a U Visa under the guidelines, you may be granted one in order to enter and stay in the U.S.  Here is what you need to know about U Visas, and how you can obtain one.


Who qualifies for a U Visa?- U Visas are designed to help people get out of dangerous situations in their home countries by offering sanctuary in the United States. They are granted exclusively to victims of crimes and/or violence and were created to offer protection to people while the crimes or other acts of violence or abuse are being investigated in their home countries. People who have suffered substantial physical or mental effects as a result of a qualifying criminal activity against them may be offered a U Visa to live in the United States while their case is under investigation. While it is hardly an ideal way to gain entry into the U.S., recipients of U Visas and their families have gone on to become permanent lawful United States residents.


What are the criteria for obtaining a U Visa?- In order to be considered for a U Visa, a person has to meet the following criteria:

  • Victim of qualifying criminal activity which violates United States laws

  • Has information regarding criminal activity in question

  • Has assisted in, is currently assisting, or is likely to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity


Much like the Witness Protection Program, the U Visa is designed to get the victim of the crime away from the perpetrator so that he or she does not sustain any further physical violence, attacks or threats as a result of his or her involvement in the prosecution of the crime. Immediate family members of the victim may also be eligible to obtain U Visas so that the family can remain together.


How do I obtain U Visa certification- Because the U Visa is only available to those who have been involved in very specific types of cases, the certification process must be determined individually by certain Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies, all of which may have different policies. Prosecutors and judges may also grant U Visa certification if they can determine that a U Visa is necessary for a particular victim. The agency who grants the certification must sign form I-918B, which will then be included with evidence submitted to support the U Visa application.

Still have questions about U Visas? Diaz Shafer, PA is here to help. Contact the team at Sunstate Immigration to schedule your consultation today at 1-855-847-2786 (1-855-VISA-SUN) and to get all of your immigration questions answered by Tampa’s foremost immigration law firm.