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Q & A on U and More

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September 2010
Q & A on U and More

What is the U Visa?

The purpose of the  U visa is to give victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States for up to four years. The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa and only 10,000 U visas may be issued every fiscal year. Family members may also be included on the petition, including spouses, children, unmarried sisters and brothers under 18, mothers, fathers, as well as step-parents and adoptive parents. An approved U visa petition will automatically grant the applicant work eligibility in the United States. An Employment Authorization Document will be included with all approved petitions, which can be shown to any employer to obtain a social security number to start work legally. Currently all U visa applications are filed at the Vermont Service Center.

An application for the U visa is filed with Form I-918 and there are different requirements that must be satisfied before you submit an application. The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to a criminal activity in at least one of the following categories: rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, hostage situations, peonage, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, blackmail, extortion, manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, perjury or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the crimes mentioned above.

All petitions must include information on how the victim can assist government officials in learning more about the crime, including investigation and/or prosecution of the individual(s) that committed the crime. The victim must also be willing to work with local law enforcement. The crime must have occurred in the United States or in a U.S. territory, or violated U.S. law.

A portion of Form I-918 must be certified by a federal, state or local law enforcement agency, such as a prosecutor or a federal or state judge in charge of the investigation in which the petitioner is the victim. Without this certification, the U visa petition cannot be submitted. However, a certification alone is not enough to establish eligibility as all facts around the petition will be considered. The certifying individual must be the head of the agency or a person designated to issue U nonimmigrant certifications. If at any point the victim stops cooperating with law enforcement, the certification can be withdrawn.

I am here on an H-4 (dependent) visa and want to attend college.  Do I have to switch to an F-1 student visa?

No, you do not have to be an F-1 student to attend school in the United States.
Most nonimmigrant status holders have the ability to go to school without an F-1 status, with the exception of F-2s.  However, if someone in a primary status, such as H-1B, goes to school, he/she has to maintain the conditions of the current H-1B to stay in legal status while attending school.

Individuals with pending adjustment-of-status (I-485) cases can also attend school. The primary applicants in employment-based I-485 cases also need to have a valid qualifying job offer, in addition to any educational pursuits.

VISA PREFERENCE NUMBERS FOR SEPTEMBER 2010

FAMILY                    India                                    Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st                       01Jan06                                               01Jan06

2A                               01Jan10                                               01Jan10          

2B                               01Jan05                                               01Jan05

3rd                              01Mar02                                              01Mar02         

4th                               15Oct01                                              15Oct01

EMPLOYMENT      India                                     Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st                        Current                                                Current

2nd                      08May06                                             Current

3rd                              01Jan02                                               15Dec04

Other                          01Jan02                                               22Mar03

4th                               Current                                                Current

5th                               Current                                                Current


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