U visas for victims of serious crimes 

U visas offer temporary status to certain immigrant victims of serious crimes. Find information on who can apply. Learn about the application process, as well as getting a work permit and green card. Know where to find support.

Updated October 25, 2023

If you need to leave this page quickly, click the red exit button.

The U.S. government offers immigration protection for certain victims through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). U visa is for victims of serious crimes and T visa is for victims of human trafficking.

What is a U visa?

U visas (also called U nonimmigrant status) are for victims of serious crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse. Serious criminal activity for this includes: 

  • Abduction or kidnapping
  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Forced prostitution 
  • Blackmail or extortion
  • Domestic violence
  • Forced labor
  • Hate crimes
  • Torture 

People with U visas get nonimmigrant status for 4 years. Nonimmigrant status means it is temporary. They may be able to get a green card to stay in the United States if they meet certain requirements. 

U-Visa holders can:  

  • Stay in the USA for up to 4 years 
  • Work legally in the U.S.      
  • Avoid detention and deportation
  • Request legal status for family
  • Apply for a green card to stay permanently if requirements are met

Who can apply?

You can apply for a U visa if you meet each of the following requirements:

  • You are a victim of a serious crime. 
  • You suffered serious physical or mental abuse.    
  • The crime happened in the USA or the criminal activity violates U.S. laws.
  • You have information about the crime. 
  • You helped or are willing to help law enforcement in their investigation. 
  • You meet U.S. admissibility requirements or have a waiver. You might be inadmissible if you have committed certain crimes or pose a threat to the public. If you do not meet admissibility requirements you may still be eligible to apply if you have a Form I-192. A legal representative can help you with this. 

If you are under 16 or you cannot provide information due to a disability, someone you trust may provide details about the crime.

How do I apply?

You apply for a U visa through USCIS. It does not cost anything to apply. You will need to:

  • Complete Form I-918.
  • Provide evidence you have been a victim of a serious crime.
  • Provide evidence that you have suffered mental or physical abuse. 
  • Get a certification from law enforcement with Form I-918, Supplement B that states you are helping their investigation.
  • Include a personal statement about your experience.
  • Complete Form I-765 to apply for work authorization to submit with your application.

You will mail your forms to either the USCIS Nebraska or Vermont Service Center depending on your state.

It is important to get legal advice. A lawyer or accredited representative can help you find out if you qualify and complete your application.

Work permit

You can apply for a work permit at the same time you apply for a U visa. A work permit is also called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). An EAD shows employers that you are allowed to work in the USA. 

To apply you will submit Form I-765 at the same time you send your Form I-914. For family members, you will send this in with Form I-914, Supplement A. 

If you already filed your U visa petition and did not include this form, you can submit it later. 

If you are on the waiting list or receive a bona fide determination for your U visa you may get work authorization while your case is pending. If you did not complete Form I-765 with your initial U visa application, you can file Form I-765 after getting notice from USCIS. 

Green card

If you are approved for a U visa, you can apply for lawful permanent residence and get a green card. In most cases, you must have lived in the USA for 3 continuous years and meet other requirements. 

To apply for a green card you will need to file Form I-485. Learn about the requirements and process for a U-visa holder.

If approved for a green card, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship after 5 years. 

Your safety

USCIS will keep all your information confidential. They will not share your information without your permission except in rare cases.

If you do not feel safe getting mail at your home, you can get a safe address you can use on applications.

Many undocumented immigrants worry that if they report a crime, they may be deported. The U visa program is there to help people who are victims of crimes and make it safer to report them. You are not required to have legal immigration status to apply for a U visa. 

Find help and support

Legal Help

It is important to get legal advice as you consider your options. A lawyer or accredited representative can help you find out if you qualify and complete your application. Many organizations and lawyers offer free or low-cost legal help

Domestic violence help

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788. You can speak to a person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Interpreters are available in over 140 languages.

Your abuser may check where you go on the internet. Be sure to regularly clear your browser history or use a safe device like a friend’s phone or public library computer. Learn more about getting help for domestic violence.

Call 911 if you are ever in immediate danger.

Emotional support

Survivors of serious crimes may experience trauma, leading to sadness or depression. Getting mental health support can help you feel better. Learn more about trauma and where to find help.

Find help near you

Find legal help, English classes, health clinics, housing support, and more. Search a local map and list of services for immigrants in the USA with the app FindHello.

Start your search

The information on this page comes from USCIS,, and other trusted sources. We aim to offer easy to understand information that is updated regularly. This information is not legal advice.