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What are U Visas?

USCIS issues 10,000 visas each year to immigrants who are victims of a crime. Those eligible for the U visa have been a victim of a qualifying crime, and as a result, have suffered substantial physical and mental abuse. Qualifying crimes include abduction, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, felonious assault, sexual assault, rape, and other similar activities in violation of federal, state, or local criminal laws. In addition to being a victim of a qualifying crime, a potential U visa applicant must have information about the criminal activity of which they are a victim, and they must have been helpful in the past, currently be helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement. To qualify for the U visa, this crime must have occurred within the United States or within U.S. territories.


Potential applicants may file an I-918 petition for a U visa regardless of their current immigration status. However, if a petitioner believes that he or she may be inadmissible, he or she must also file a waiver of inadmissibility.


Processing times for the U visa are currently about four to five years and USCIS only issues 10,000 visas per year. However, the 10,000 visa cap does not apply to derivatives. Petitioners may include their spouses or dependents as derivatives to their U visa. If the 10,000 visa cap is reached, the remaining petitioners who are approved will receive a Notice of Conditional Approval. This notice gives either deferred action or parole to the petitioner. An applicant with a Notice of Conditional Approval will not be considered to be remaining unlawfully in the U.S. and will be eligible for work authorization.


Upon approval of a petition for U visa status, any order of removal, deportation, or exclusion is thrown out and considered canceled as of the date of the approval. For the persons applying for the U visa, employment is authorized automatically upon approval. However, any derivatives of the application must file a separate application for employment authorization. An applicant may include as a derivative a spouse (for U-2 status), children (for U-3 status), parents (for U-4 status), and unmarried siblings (for U-5 status).


U visas are valid for four years. When the U visa status (U-1) expires, the visa holder may file for an extension. However, extensions are only granted to those who demonstrate that their presence in the U.S. is still necessary to the investigation or prosecution. This must be demonstrated through documentation submitted by the law enforcement agency that investigated or prosecuted the criminal activity committed against the applicant.


Those in the U.S. on U-1 or any derivative status may adjust status if they meet several criteria. First, they have to be lawfully in the U.S. at the time they file for adjustment of status. This means that if a U visa holder or any derivative abandons or overstays their status, they are no longer eligible to adjust. Second, they must be have U status at the time they file for adjustment. Third, they must have been physically present in the U.S. for three continuous years. Fourth, the person cannot unreasonably refuse to provide assistance to law enforcement. Additionally, the visa holder must establish that his or her presence in the U.S. is justified for humanitarian, family unity, or public interest purposes.

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New York U VISA Expert

We emphasize on clear communication and a personal approach. Our clients work directly with an attorney from the initial consultation through the resolution of the case. We are quick to respond to client needs, available to answer your questions and intent on keeping you informed of the status of your case.

Need help with any kind of U VISA issues? Contact us now!


Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Immigrants

Few areas of law impact the long-term future of individuals and businesses as much as immigration law. The attorneys at C.T. Lee & Associates understand this, which is why we carefully analyze every client’s needs before developing a strategy that is designed to achieve each client’s goals as effectively and cost-efficiently as possible. See below for our list of services within immigration.

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