Do I qualify for a U Visa?
A: U Visa is an immigration benefit for victims of certain crimes. You may qualify for a U Visa
• You have been a victim of a qualified crime (e.g. domestic violence, incest, rape,
stalking, sexual assault)
• You cooperated with the authorities in the investigation of the crime
• You suffered emotional or physical harm USCIS grants you a waiver of inadmissibility
for criminal or immigration violations
What relatives can I include in my U-Visa Application?
A: You can include your children under 21 and your spouse depending upon when you get
married, as long as they are not the abusers. If you are under 21, you can include your spouse,
children, parents and siblings under 18.
What are the Benefits of a U- Visa?
A: Some of the benefits of a U Visa include:
• Legal status and protection from deportation
• Work Permit
• Eligibility to apply for permanent residency after 3 years
• Eligibility for CalWorks, Food Stamps and Medical after receiving the U Visa receipt
Why is the waiting period for a U-Visa so long?
A: There are only 10,000 U Visas available per year and well over 10,000 people apply each
year. In the past, USCIS was able to process U Visa cases within a year, but due to the increased
volume of applications they are now taking over three years. Therefore, someone who applies
today will likely be waiting for at least three years and there is nothing that can be done to
expedite this process.
Once USCIS processes your case, they will put you on a wait list and grant you a work permit
that lasts two years while you wait for your visa. It is likely that you will have to renew your
work permit at least two times while you are on the wait list. The wait period can be longer or
shorter depending on the resources that USCIS has, in the past we have only seen the wait time
Can I travel while on the wait list?
A: No. You may not travel outside of the U.S. while on the wait list. If you leave the country
while on the wait-list you will not be able to return to the U.S. until your U Visa is approved, this
can be many years.
Can I travel outside of the U.S. once my U Visa is approved?
A: When USCIS approves your case, you will receive a work permit valid for four years but you
may not use it to reenter the country. It is not recommended, however you may travel with
approval from USCIS but first, you must file and obtain approval by filing for Advance Parole. If
you plan to travel while on U-Nonimmigrant Status, you should contact an immigration attorney
before leaving the country as this can cause serious repercussions in your case.
How does USCIS process my case?
A: The U Visa application is done completely by mail. The U Visa process is confidential and
USCIS will make a decision solely on the documents that you include in your application. USCIS
will not contact your abuser, or anyone else to discuss your case, nor will a new criminal case be
initiated against the abuser.
Can I be placed in deportation proceedings if my U-Visa is denied?
A: Up until now, D.H.S. has stated that they do not intend to refer to ICE, people who have not
been approved for a U Visa.
When can I become a resident?
A: After having your U Visa for three years, you can apply to become a resident and you must
apply before your U Visa expires.
When can I apply to become a citizen?
A: After being a resident for at least five years, you can apply to become a United States citizen.
What to do while waiting for my U-Visa Approval?
A: Avoid any negative contact with police as certain police departments can refer you to
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Negative contact includes but is not
• driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
• driving without a license;
• not paying tickets for crimes; and infractions
• not paying tickets for infractions.
• Any negative contact with police can affect your U-Visa case.
• Avoid contact with immigration officials but if you cannot avoid it, remember your
• ICE’s job is to determine whether someone is in the country without authorization—since
they cannot make a determination by simply looking at you, they will ask you questions.
• ICE will use this information to more easily process your deportation. You have the right
to remain silent; you only need to provide your name but you do not need to answer any
• If officers come to your home, you have the right to not open the door unless they have a
• Do not consent to a search of your person, car or home unless they can show you a
• You also have the right to have an attorney if ICE wants to interrogate you, so you should
always request one and never sign any documents without consulting an attorney first.