Visas for Victims of Criminal Activity
Victims of certain criminal activities that either occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws may be eligible to petition for U nonimmigrant status to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Victims must have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the criminal activity and possess information concerning that criminal activity. Law enforcement authorities must also certify that the victim has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Information about the law that created this visa category is available under Reference - U.S. Law.
Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage
Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.
What is the difference between U nonimmigrant status and a U nonimmigrant visa?
In order to receive U-1 nonimmigrant status, you must be eligible and you must comply with the application requirements set forth by USCIS. USCIS approves U nonimmigrant petitions both for people who are in the United States and for those abroad. Individuals already present in the United States who have an approved petition are immediately granted U nonimmigrant status by USCIS.
Individuals overseas who have approved U visa petitions, or who already have U nonimmigrant status and have traveled overseas, are required to apply for a U visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If issued a U visa, the individual will be in U nonimmigrant status after entering the United States.
If you are overseas and wish to apply for U-1 nonimmigrant status, first you must petition directly to the USCIS Vermont Service Center. U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad are not permitted to accept petitions for U nonimmigrant status. Once the petition is approved, you may apply for a visa.
If you already have U-1 nonimmigrant status granted by USCIS but have traveled outside the United States, you must apply for and be issued a U visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for re-entry to the United States. Learn more.
If you are a qualifying family member of a victim with U-1 nonimmigrant status and you are outside the United States, first you must receive a USCIS Form I-797, Notice of Action, stating your petition has been approved. Then you must schedule your U visa appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a visa.
File a Petition
The first step toward petitioning for a U nonimmigrant visa is to file Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must submit Form I-918 Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification, at the same time you submit Form I-918. Review Victims of Criminal Activity on the USCIS website for more information about petitioning for a U visa.
You may include certain family members on your petition by completing Form I-918 Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient. You must complete and file a separate Supplement A form for each family member for whom you want to petition. You may petition for family members at the same time you submit Form I-918 and Supplement B for yourself, or you may petition for them at a later date. Depending on your age, you may petition for the following family members:
If you are:
Then you may petition for your:
under age 21,
- Children under age 21
- Unmarried siblings under age 18
age 21 or older,
- Children under age 21
If you file Form I-918 Supplement A for children who are overseas and under the age of 21, they must be issued visas by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and enter the United States before turning 21. Unmarried siblings who are under the age of 18 when you file Form I-918 Supplement A may be older than 18 when they are issued visas by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Forms I-918, I-918 Supplement A, and I-918 Supplement B must be submitted directly to the USCIS Vermont Service Center, regardless of where you or your qualifying family members are currently located. Before USCIS approves your petition, you and your qualifying family members aged 14-79 will receive a Notice of Action instructing you to go to the nearest USCIS office for fingerprinting. If you or your qualifying family members are outside the United States, you must submit your fingerprints at the nearest USCIS office. If there is no USCIS office in your country, you must go to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to have your fingerprints taken. Check the embassy or consulate website for instructions on requesting a fingerprinting appointment for a U nonimmigrant petition. Contact the Nonimmigrant Visa section if you have questions, and be sure to specify that you need fingerprints collected as part of a U nonimmigrant petition. There is no fee for this fingerprinting service. Do not wait for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact you.
USCIS will inform you in writing when your petition is approved or denied. If your petition is approved by USCIS, you will receive a notice of approval on Form I-797, Notice of Action, from USCIS stating your petition has been approved.
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Schedule an Interview
If your Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status is approved by USCIS and you are outside of the United States, you must apply for a U visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, generally in your country of permanent residence. You may request your visa appointment immediately upon receiving the Form I-797 from USCIS stating your U nonimmigrant petition was approved. Do not wait for the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you.
While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined above, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.
If you are age:
Then an interview is:
|13 and younger||Generally not required|
|14-79||Required (some exceptions for renewals)|
|80 and older||Generally not required|
You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:
Appointment Wait Time
Prepare for Your Interview
- Fees - Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:
- Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.
Gather Required Documentation
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
- Passport valid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
- Form I-797, Notice of Action, from USCIS indicating approval of a U nonimmigrant petition.
Additional Documentation May Be Required
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified.
Attend Your Visa Interview
During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.
When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.
Extending Your Stay
U nonimmigrants are required to have approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Vermont Service Center to stay beyond the date indicated on their admission stamp or paper Form I-94. To receive an extension of U nonimmigrant status, a U nonimmigrant must file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. See page 8 of the USCIS Policy Memo PM-602-0032.1 on the USCIS website for more guidance.
You must depart the United States on or before the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, unless your request to extend your stay is approved by USCIS.
Failure to depart the United States on time will result in you being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of travelers who are out of status are automatically voided (section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). If you had a multiple-entry visa and it was voided due to you being out of status, it will not be valid for future entries into the United States.
- We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
- Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
If you were physically present in the United States when you filed your petition and your petition was approved, USCIS sent you a notice of approval on Form I-797, Notice of Action, and an electronic I-94 admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record, as proof that you were granted U nonimmigrant status.
After traveling outside the United States, you must obtain a U nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to re-enter the United States. See U Nonimmigrant Visa - How to Apply above. As part of the application process, you will need to present your Form I-797, Notice of Action, and an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
Visa Denial and Ineligibility
Review Visa Denials for detailed information about visa ineligibilities, denials, and waivers.
If you are ineligible for a U visa, you must file Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, directly with the USCIS Vermont Service Center. The U.S. embassy or consulate cannot issue a visa until USCIS has made a determination on the Form I-192. If approved, USCIS will notify you and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you applied for your visa. If you receive notification that your waiver has been approved, follow the “221(g)” instructions on the embassy’s or consulate’s website for how to proceed with your application. Do not wait for the embassy or consulate to contact you.
Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply, above). Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Review the instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to determine if the IWP is available and if you qualify.
Misrepresentation or Fraud
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda
Citizens of Canada and Bermuda traveling to the United States do not require nonimmigrant visas, except for certain travel purposes. For more information, see Citizens of Canada and Bermuda.
Additional resources for Canadians traveling to the United States can be found on the U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites in Canada.
Additional resources for Bermudians traveling to the United States can be found on the U.S. Consulate General Hamilton website.
Adjustment of Status
Information about adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident is available on the USCIS website under Green Card for a Victim of a Crime (U Nonimmigrant). U nonimmigrants eligible to adjust status must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, directly with the USCIS Vermont Service Center. See the special Supplement E Instructions to Form I-485 for further details.
If a U-1 principal nonimmigrant is eligible to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident and has qualifying family members who have never held derivative U nonimmigrant status, those family members may be eligible to become lawful permanent residents by filing Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant. The Form I-929 must be filed directly with the USCIS Vermont Service Center.
Revocation of U Status
If the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revokes a principal petitioner’s U-1 nonimmigrant status, all family members deriving U nonimmigrant status from the revoked U-1 principal petitioner will have their status revoked, as well. Also, family members residing abroad awaiting decisions on their petitions for derivative U nonimmigrant status (U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5) will be denied.
In October 2000, the United States Congress created the U nonimmigrant status for victims of criminal activity by passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVPA). This visa category is limited to 10,000 principals with U-1 status per year.
For questions about:
please refer to:
through this website:
Filing Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, including Supplements A and B
Applying for a U visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas, based on your approved petition
the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of residence
- Lost/Stolen Travel Documents
- A-Z Index
- Criminal Activity Victims-USCIS
- Find a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- Fraud Warning
- Visa Expiration Date
- Border Security/Safety
- Automatic Revalidation
- Nonimmigrants in the United States–Applying for Visas in Canada or Mexico
- Visa Applicants - State Sponsors of Terrorism