The U-visa is a visa for people who have been victims of certain crimes, suffered substantial physical or emotional harm from the incident(s), and who were helpful in the investigation or prosecution of that crime.
The U-visa is issued for four years. After three years, a U-visa recipient may apply for their lawful permanent residency. The requirements are found at INA §245(m) and are as follows:
- You must be in U-nonimmigrant status at the time you file your I-485, Application for Permanent Residency;
- The applicant must have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of 3 years since the date they were admitted in U-visa status;
- An applicant must not have “unreasonably refused to provide assistance” to law enforcement;
- The applicant is not inadmissible under INA §212(a)(3)(E)-participants in Nazi persecution, genocide, torture, or extrajudicial killing;
- An applicant’s continued presence in the United States is “justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or is otherwise in the public interest;” and
- The applicant deserves a favorable decision as a matter of discretion.
U-Visa Adjustment of Status Requirements Explained
Must Be in U-Nonimmigrant Status: You must apply for your green card between the 3rd anniversary of your U-visa and its expiry. If you cannot file for adjustment of status (AOS) before the expiration of your U-visa, you should request an extension of the U-visa status.
Physically Present for 3 Years: You must be physically present in the United States for three years after you’ve been admitted in U-visa status. Physical presence would be broken if you are outside of the United States for 90 consecutive days or 180 days in total unless the absence was to help law enforcement. To prove physical presence, you must submit a copy of every page of all passports, as well as provide evidence of physical presence (bank statements, pay stubs, leases, medical records, etc…). You must also include an affidavit attesting to your physical presence.
Unreasonably Refused to Provide Assistance: An applicant must not have unreasonably refused to assist law enforcement. You can demonstrate this by submitting a new I-918B certification from law enforcement; however, this is not required. You can also include an affidavit explaining any assistance that you’ve provided, or if none was requested.
Not Inadmissible Under INA §212(a)(3)(E): An applicant must not have participated in Nazi persecutions, genocide, torture, or extrajudicial killing. All other grounds of inadmissibility are waivable. Any grounds of inadmissibility waived when the applicant applied for the U-visa will be waived for AOS; however, any new grounds of inadmissibility acquired during U-visa status will require new waivers.
Humanitarian Grounds, Family Unity, Public Interest & Discretion: Applicants must show that their continued presence in the U.S. is “justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or is otherwise in the public interest,” as a matter of USCIS’ discretion. In other words, you must show why you deserve approval, and why it is in the community’s interest for you to become a lawful permanent resident.
To demonstrate this you can submit proof of length of residence in the United States, long term employment, long term residence at one home, family ties, membership in a religious organization, volunteer work, ties to the community, hardship if returned to your country of origin, and any other evidence that you are a good person.
If you have a U-visa and would like information about applying for your green card, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in U-visa and complex waiver cases. Please feel free to call us at (510) 491-0291 to see how we can help!