On May 27, 2015, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman's Office hosted a public teleconference regarding U nonimmigrant visas. Representatives from the Department of State’s Consular Affairs Section, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Policy and Strategy, the Vermont Service Center, and Humanitarian Affairs Branch participated and responded to questions. The discussion focused on U nonimmigrant status petition processing by USCIS and U visa processing by the Department of State, law enforcement certification issues, and best practices for filing.
The U visa program encourages victims to report crimes and contribute to investigations and prosecutions regardless of immigration status. It supports law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute crimes committed against immigrant victims.
During the call, USCIS explained that individuals apply for U nonimmigrant status by filing Form I-918 (PDF, 8 pages, 259 KB), Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, with USCIS. A petition for U nonimmigrant status requires an applicant to qualify as a victim of a criminal activity designated in INA section 101(a)(15)(U). The petition must also include a Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (PDF, 8 pages, 259 KB), signed by a judge or a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency that detects, investigates, or prosecutes the qualifying criminal activity. Individuals seeking to waive a ground of inadmissibility must file Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant. U Nonimmigrant petitioners can also petition for certain qualifying family members by filing Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient (PDF, 8 pages, 248 KB). These petitions and applications are adjudicated by the USCIS VAWA Unit at the Vermont Service Center. On its website, USCIS provides detailed instructions (PDF, 9 pages, 95 KB) on how to properly complete and submit these petitions and applications.
The U.S. Department of State shared that once an individual’s I-918 petition is approved, principal petitioners and/or their derivatives living abroad must apply for a U visa to consular process. They are required to fill out the DS-160. General information about visa classifications can be found at www.travel.state.gov. Procedures for interviews are determined by each embassy and consulate. Information on the process and contact email and phone numbers can be found at www.usembassy.gov.
Emergency circumstances may create a need to seek immediate entry into the United States. USCIS explained that individuals experiencing certain circumstances may seek humanitarian parole to enter the country.
USCIS reviewed how individuals may apply for adjustment of status to become a legal permanent resident by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (PDF, 6 pages, 202 KB), after spending three years in continuous legal presence in U nonimmigrant status. Individuals who adjust status before petitioning for a derivative family member can file Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant (PDF, 7 pages, 686 KB), which is used to request an immigrant visa for a family member who never held U nonimmigrant status.
If you are experiencing a case problem with USCIS, you can submit your case online to our office at www.dhs.gov/cisombudsman.
An applicant’s attorney of record may contact the VAWA Unit during the processing of a U nonimmigrant status petition by phone at 802-527-4888 or email at hotlinefollowupI918I914.firstname.lastname@example.org. Unrepresented petitioners may send written inquiries to:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Vermont Service Center
ATTN: VAWA Unit
75 Lower Welden St.
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001
USCIS provides a variety of resources for law enforcement agencies and judges. Law enforcement officials who have a question about a specific case or to rescind a signed certification can send an email to: LawEnforcement_UTVAWA.VSC@uscis.dhs.gov.* To request U visa training for your law enforcement agency, please email T-U-VAWATraining@dhs.gov.*
For more information about the U visa program please see: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes.
Another resource is the DHS U Visa Law Enforcement Certification Resource Guide. This guide is available to law enforcement officials to support investigations and prosecutions involving qualified immigrant victims of crime. Included in the guide is information about U visa requirements, the law enforcement certification process, and answers to frequently asked questions from law enforcement agencies. DHS created this guide in response to requests for more guidance from law enforcement officials and domestic violence advocates.
*Please note that these e-mail addresses are for law enforcement personnel only. Any e-mail sent by any person or entity that is not law enforcement to this specific e-mail address will not be answered.