For the frequently asked questions and its answers on a particular Non-Immigrant Visa type, please see the relevant information below:
Q1. What is required for a consulate to issue an A1 or A2 visa?
A. One must be traveling to the United States on behalf of their national government to engage solely in official activities for that government. The particular duties or services that will be performed must be governmental in character or nature.
Q2. Am I required to attend an interview at the US Consulate for obtaining an A1 or A2 visa?
A. Embassies and consulates generally do not require an interview for those applying for A1 and A2 visas. However, a consular officer can request an interview. Note that personal employees, attendants and servants of A visa holders, that is, applicants for A3 visas are required to be interviewed.
Q3. Can I adjust status from a diplomatic visa status?
A. Yes. Section 13 of the INA allows it. You must show that you entered the United States as an A-1 or A-2; duties were diplomatic or semi-diplomatic in nature; there is a compelling reason why you or your immediate family cannot return to the country which accredited you as a diplomat; you are a person of good moral character; you are admissible to the United States for permanent residence; and granting you a green card would be in the national interest of the United States. While applying for adjustment of status, you must submit Form I-566 (Interagency Record of Request) and Form I-508 (Waiver of Rights, Privileges, Exemptions, and Immunities).
Q4. How is immediate family member defined under G visa?
A. Immediate family members are defined as the spouse and unmarried sons and daughters of any age who are members of the principal applicant’s household, even if they are studying in another location. They also include close relatives of the principal applicant or spouse related by blood, marriage or adoption and are not members of some other household, will reside regularly in the household of the principal applicant and are recognized as dependents by the sending Government.
Q5. Does an immediate family member, who is not a member of the principal applicant’s household qualify for a diplomatic visa?
A. No, if a relative is not a member of the principal applicant’s household, then they do not meet the definition of “immediate family” member. This is true, even if for example, a niece/nephew will reside with the principal applicant in the U.S. in order to attend school. In such cases, she/he must seek the appropriate visa for the purpose of their travel.
Q6. What if the family member has until recently been a member of another household but has joined the household of the principal applicant?
A. The fact that your relative has been, even in the recent past, a member of some other household does not preclude him or her from being considered a member of your household. You must be able to show that you are financially responsible for the new family member. The relative must show that they are joining your household out of necessity, rather than convenience.
Q7. My son is adopted and is at boarding school. Does he qualify as a member of the immediate household?
A. Children who have completed a full and final adoption by the principal applicant are considered immediate family members. Your son is an immediate relative, even though he or she is absent from the household for part of the year while attending boarding school or college.
Q8. I am a diplomat and hold a diplomatic passport. I am traveling to the U.S. as a tourist. Do I require a diplomatic visa or can I travel visa free?
A. Only heads of state or government qualify for A visas regardless of the purpose of their visit. Visa classification for others is determined by the purpose of their travel. If traveling as a tourist, you will need a B visa or if eligible, you may travel visa free under the Visa waiver Program.
Q9. I am traveling for less than 90 days on behalf of my government. I belong to the visa waiver country. Can I travel visa free under the Visa waiver program?
A. If you are traveling to the United States as an official representative of your government, you require a diplomatic visa.
Q10. Do I qualify for a diplomatic visa if I am a local government official?
A. Diplomatic visa (A visa) status only pertains to officials traveling to the United States on behalf of their national government. Local government officials traveling on behalf of their state, province, borough or other local entity do not qualify for A visas.
Q11. Do I qualify for a diplomatic visa if I am in the armed forces? What if I am a police officer travelling on official business?
A. If you are from a non-NATO country and the military education or training you are to receive is being provided at a U.S. military facility (service academy, fort, base, other military installation), you may qualify for an A visa regardless of the duration of the training. If the military training you are to receive is U.S. Government-sponsored or licensed but is not provided at a U.S. military facility, you may qualify for an A visa only if the period of training is less than 90 days. Note: NATO military personnel qualify for NATO visas.
If you are a member of a national law enforcement or police agency coming to the U.S. on behalf of the national government for an official purpose (for example, to interview witnesses or in connection with an investigation), or coming for U.S. Government-sponsored training in connection with your official duties, you may qualify for an A visa.
Q12. I am going for an international conference/meeting sponsored by an international organization. Which visa do I require – A or G?
A. If you are being sent by your government to a meeting or conference which is sponsored by an international organization, you will generally require a G visa, unless your visit will also include other official activities, such as bilateral meetings in Washington D.C. with U.S. Government officials, which would require an A visa. Additionally, a head of state, head of government, cabinet member, presiding officer of a national legislative body, or member of the highest judicial tribunal qualifies for A visa classification to represent his/her government at international meetings or conferences which is sponsored by an international organization.
Q13. What type of visa do I require to travel to attend a course in U.S. offered by IMF/World Bank Economic Institute (WB)?
A. If you have been nominated by a member government of the IMF/WB to attend the course, you are eligible for a G visa. When applying for the visa, you are required to furnish the letter of acceptance from the IMF/WB. The request for the visa must be made or supported by the nominating foreign government. Attendees who are not nominated by a member government require B visas.
Q14. Can dependents of A/G/NATO visa holders work on derivative status?
A. Dependents of A-1, A-2, G-1, G-3, G-4 and NATO1-6 visa holders may be eligible to work in the United States on derivative A, G or NATO visas. An application for employment must be made on the form I-566 to the Department of State’s Office of Protocol through the office, mission, or organization, which employs the principal alien. If the Department’s recommendation is favorable, the form I-566 will be forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for action. If the application is approved, USCIS will transmit the employment authorization to the mission, or international organization. In the case of NATO dependents, USCIS employment authorization will be transmitted to NATO/HQ SACT.
Q1. I am on C visa status. I am eligible to change or extend my stay in United States?
A. No. You must depart the US on or before the I-94 expires.
Q1. I am on D visa status. I am eligible to change or extend my stay in United States?
A. No, You must depart the US on or before the I-94 expires. Usually, you must depart U.S. on a vessel within 29 days. You are not considered to have departed the U.S. until the vessel you are on travels to international waters destined to a foreign port.
Q1. My country does not maintain a treaty of commerce and navigation with United States. Am I eligible to apply for an E1/E2 visa?
A. No. It is only for citizens of countries which maintain treaty of commerce and navigation with United States.
Q2. Should the trading firm for which I plan to come (on E1 visa) as a Treaty Trader to the United States must have nationality of the treaty country?
A. Yes and that too persons with treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50% of the enterprise.
Q3. For a treaty investor (E2) visa, can the investor be a person, partnership or corporation?
A. Yes but if it is a business, at least 50% of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty county’s nationality.
Q4. I am on E1/E2 visa with my wife. Can we extend our stay in the United States? If so, what Form should we use?
A. Yes. Your employer should file Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, before the date your I-94 expires. For your spouse, use Form I-539. File I-129 and I-539 together so that they may be adjudicated at the same time.
Q1. What is a Media (I) visa?
A. Media (I) visas are for representatives of the foreign media, including members of the press, radio, film, and print industries, traveling temporarily to the United States to work in their profession engaged in informational or educational media activities, essential to the foreign media function.
Q2. Are there any requirements for the activities under I visa?
A. Activities in the United States while on a media (I) visa must be for a media organization having its home office in a foreign country. Activities in the United States must be informational in nature and generally associated with the news gathering process and reporting on current events.
Q3. I would like to work in the profession of media in United States. Can I travel on B1 or under the Visa waiver Program?
A. Representatives of the foreign media who will work in their profession as media or journalists while in the United States cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program or on visitor (B) visas.
Q4. My spouse and child is on I visa. Can they study?
A. Yes they can without applying for F-1 non-immigrant student visa.
Q1. What is O-1 visa?
A. The O-1 non-immigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
Q2. Who is eligible for O-1A visa?
A. O-1A is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry).
Q3. Who is eligible for O-1B visa?
A. O-1B is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.
Q4. Who is eligible for O-2 visa?
A. O-2 is for individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1
Q5. What is O-3 visa?
A. O-3 visa is for individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s.
Q6. What are the eligibility criteria to qualify for an O-1 visa?
A. To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor. Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.
Q7. What are the eligibility criteria to qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry?
A. The beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.
Q8. What are the evidentiary criteria that need to be met for O-1A?
A. Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
- Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
- Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
- A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
- Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
- Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.
Q9. What are the evidentiary criteria that need to be met for O-1B?
A. Evidence that the beneficiary has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
- Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements
- Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.
- A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications
- Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements
- A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence
If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation in the arts, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility (this exception does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).
Q10. What documentary evidence should my petitioner submit to process an O-1 application?
A. The petitioner must submit Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, and the documentary evidence like Consultation (a written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability), Contract between petitioner and beneficiary, and Itineraries.
Q11. Are there exceptions to the documentary evidence of consultation?
A. If the petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group, including a labor organization, do not exist the decision will be based on the evidence of record. A consultation may be waived for an alien with extraordinary ability in the field of arts if the alien seeks readmission to perform similar services within 2 years of the date of a previous consultation. Petitioners should submit a waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation with the petition.
Q12. Does the contract have to be a written contract?
A. Usually, USCIS requires a written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed. Oral contract evidence may include but is not limited to: emails between the contractual parties, a written summation of the terms of the agreement, or any other evidence which demonstrates that an oral agreement was created. The summary of the terms of the oral agreement must contain what was offered by the employer and what was accepted by the employee and does not have to be signed by both parties to establish the oral agreement. However, it must document the terms of the employment offered and that the beneficiary has agreed to the offer.
Q13. What should the itinerary include?
A. An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, if applicable. The petitioner must establish that there are events or activities in the beneficiary’s field of extraordinary ability for the validity period requested, e.g. an itinerary for a tour or a series of events.
Q14. Can petitioner be an agent of an employer?
A. The U.S. Agent may be the actual employer of the beneficiary, the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary, or a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent.
Q15. What are the requirements for the Agent while Performing the Function of an Employer?
A. I-129 filed by an agent performing the function of an employer must include the contractual agreement between the agent and the beneficiary which specifies the wage offered and other terms and conditions of employment. This can be a summary of the terms of the oral agreement or a written contract. A contract is not required between the beneficiary and the entities that will ultimately use the beneficiary’s services. If alien works in more than one location agent must include an itinerary with the dates and locations of work. The itinerary should at a minimum indicate what type of work the beneficiary will be engaged, where, and when this work will take place. A contractual agreement must be provided with the petition to determine whether the agent is functioning as the employer of the beneficiary. It should establish the type of working relationship between the agent and beneficiary and should clearly lay out how the beneficiary will be paid. In totality, if the terms and conditions of employment show a level of control over the beneficiary’s work being relinquished to the agent, then the agent may establish that it is performing the function of an employer. The petition must be submitted with evidence regarding the wage offered. However, the regulations do not contain a prevailing wage requirement. Furthermore, no particular wage structure is required. A detailed description of the wage offered or fee structure and that the wage offered/ fee structure was agreed upon may satisfy this requirement.
Q16. I am agent filing for a foreign employer. What documentary evidence must I submit?
A. You must submit the minimum general documentary evidence such as copies of any written contracts between the foreign employer and the beneficiary or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed, an explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, and a written advisory opinion from the appropriate consulting entity or entities. The regulations do not require any additional documentary requirements for an agent filing on behalf of a foreign employer. However, it is the foreign employer who is responsible for complying with all applicable employer sanctions provisions.
Q17. I got my O visa. When can I travel to USA? How long can I stay on O visa? Can I apply for an extension?
A. You may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. Your initial period of stay allowed is for three years. For extension of stay, USCIS will determine time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity in increments of up to 1 year.
Q18. I am on O visa. Can I change employers?
A. Yes. Your new employer must file a Form I-129 with the USCIS.
Q19. What should I do if there are material changes in my employment terms and conditions?
A. The petitioner must file an amended petition on Form I-129 with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.
Q20. I am O visa. My employer terminated me. Am I eligible for return transportation costs from my employer?
A. If you are terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer must pay for the reasonable cost of your return transportation to your last place of residence before entering into the United States. If an agent filed the petition for the employer, the agent and the employer are equally responsible for paying these costs.
Q21. I am on O-3 visa. Can I work?
Q1. What is the difference between P1, P2 and P3 visas?
A. P-1 visa classification provides for admission into the United States of certain athletes, entertainers and artists, and essential support personnel. The P-2 visa classification provides for the admission into the United States of an artist or entertainer, either an individual or group, involved in a reciprocal exchange program between an organization or organizations in the United States and one or more foreign countries which provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers. The P-3 visa classification provides for the admission into the United States of an artist or entertainer, either an individual or group, to perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique.
Q2. What are the eligibility criteria for P1B visa?
A. At least 75 percent of the members of the group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year. The entertainment group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members or the acclaim of a particular production, is essential.
Q3. I am an individual entertainer and not part of a group. Will I be eligible for P1B visa?
A. Individual entertainers not performing as part of a group are not eligible for this visa classification.
Q4. Can I enter the United States on my P visa before I begin my employment is scheduled to begin?
A. Yes. You may enter the United States up to 10 days before your employment is authorized to begin as indicated on your Form I-797 (Notice of Approval). However, you may not work in the United States except during the validity period of the petition.
Q5. Can my stepchild apply for a derivative (P-4) visa?
A. If the marriage creating the stepchild relationship occurred before the child’s 18th birthday, the child may apply for a derivative visa. Your child’s application materials must include a copy of your marriage certificate establishing the stepchild relationship.
Q6. Can I study in the United States on a derivative (P-4) visa?
A. Yes. There is no requirement that the spouse and/or children of a P visa holder apply for a student (F-1) visa if they wish to study in the United States. They may study on their derivative P visas.
Q7. Can I work in the United States on a derivative (P-4) visa?
A. No. Individuals in P-4 status cannot work while in the United States.
Q8. Can I change employers while in the United States in P non-immigrant status?
A. Yes. New employer has to file a new petition.
Q9. What should do if I am fired from my job in the United States?
A. You must immediately report any change in your employment status to the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the area where you are employed.
Q10. I am on P1 visa. Can my dependents on P4 visa take up employment? What about study?
A. Your dependents may not engage in employment, but may attend school or college.
Q11. I am on P1B visa. Can I change my employer?
A. Yes as long as the new employer files a new petition.
Q1. What is Q (cultural Exchange) visa?
A. The Q non-immigrant exchange program is for the purpose of providing practical training and employment, and to share the history, culture, and traditions of your home country with the United States.
Q2. What is difference between J and Q visa?
A. The J non-immigrant visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Q non-immigrant visa is for international cultural exchange programs designated by USCIS.
Q3. I am only 17 years old. Am I eligible for Q visa?
A. You must be at least 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of your country to get the Q visa.
Q4. How long can I stay on my Q visa? Can I come back immediately after I depart on Q visa?
A. Initial period stay allowed is for 15 months. After you complete your Q cultural exchange program, you are afforded 30 days to depart the United States. You are required to spend one year outside the United States before you can apply for participation in the Q cultural exchange program again.
Q1. What is an “S” visa for?
A. S visa is for a non-immigrant individual who has assisted a law enforcement agency as a witness or informant.
Q2. I am on “S” visa. Can I apply for green card on my own?
A. Only a federal or state law enforcement agency or a U.S. Attorney’s office may submit a request for permanent residence as an S non-immigrant on behalf of you. The law enforcement agency may submit an application for permanent residence (a green card) on your behalf when you have completed the terms and conditions of your S visa. The requesting agency must also be the same agency that initially requested your S non-immigrant status.
Q3. Are family members of the principal S non-immigrant also eligible to apply for a green card?
A. Qualifying family members of the principal S non-immigrant may also be eligible to apply for a green card.
Q4. What are steps involved in green card process?
A. S non-immigrant must go through a two-step process to apply for a green card. First step is to File Form I-854, Interagency Alien Witness and Informant Record. This form is to be completed by the federal or state law enforcement agency or U.S. Attorney’s Office that initially filed for the S non-immigrant status on behalf of the individual. Evidence that the witness or informant has fulfilled his or her obligations as an S non-immigrant and provided information about all potential grounds of inadmissibility must be included with the completed and signed Form I-854 application. The second step is to file I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status after Form I-854 is approved.
Q1. Who is eligible for “T” visa?
A. One who is or were a victim of trafficking, as defined by law and is in the United States or at a port of entry due to trafficking and complies with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking as well as demonstrate that he or she would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if he or she were removed from the United States. Also, the individual must show that he or she is admissible to the United States.
Q2. Is there a waiver available if I am inadmissible?
A. Yes. You may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.
Q1. What is “U” visa?
A. The U visa is an immigration benefit that can be sought by victims of certain crimes who are currently assisting or have previously assisted law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of a crime, or who are likely to be “helpful” in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
Q2. What Does “Helpful” or “enough Cooperation” in the Investigation or Prosecution Mean?
A. Helpfulness means the victim was, is, or is likely to be assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity of which he or she is a victim. This includes: being helpful and providing assistance when reasonably requested and ongoing responsibility on the part of the victim to be helpful. The duty to remain helpful to law enforcement remains even after a U visa is granted, and those victims who unreasonably refuse to provide assistance after the U visa has been granted may have the visa revoked by USCIS.
Q3. What is “U” visa certification Form I-918B?
A. It is a certification from the law enforcement agency that essentially states to USCIS that the petitioner was a victim of a qualifying crime; the petitioner has specific knowledge and details of crime; and the petitioner has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of the qualifying crime.
Q4. What happens to the certification if the investigation by law enforcement agency does not yield any results?
A. A current investigation, the filing of charges, a prosecution or conviction are not required to sign the law enforcement certification. Many instances may occur where the victim has reported a crime, but an arrest or prosecution cannot take place due to evidentiary or other circumstances. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, when the perpetrator has fled or is otherwise no longer in the jurisdiction, the perpetrator cannot be identified, or the perpetrator has been deported by federal law enforcement officials. There is no statute of limitations on signing the law enforcement certification. A law enforcement certification can even be submitted for a victim in a closed case.
Q5. How many “U” visas are available each year?
Q6. Who is eligible to receive a “U” visa?
A. An individual may be eligible for a U visa if:
- He/she is the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
- He/she has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
- He/she has information about the criminal activity. If under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on the individual’s behalf.
- He/she was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on behalf of the individual.
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws
- He/she is admissible to the United States.
Q7. Is there a waiver available for inadmissibility?
A. Yes. If not admissible, an individual may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.
Q8. I am on “U” visa. Can I work? What about my family members? Am I eligible to apply for green card?
A. You can live and work in the United States for no longer than 4 years. You may apply to adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident (green card) after three years of continuous presence in the U.S. while having a U visa. You will have to meet other eligibility requirements for a green card as well, including the ongoing duty to cooperate with law enforcement and not unreasonably refuse to assist with the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying crime. Your immediate family members may also be eligible to live and work in the United States as derivative U visa recipients based on their relationship with the principal recipient.
Q9. Which law enforcement agencies are eligible to make certifications?
A. A federal, state, local law enforcement agency, prosecutor, judge, or other authority that has the responsibility for the investigation or prosecution of a qualifying crime or criminal activity is eligible to sign Form I-918B. This includes agencies with criminal investigative jurisdiction in their respective areas of expertise, including but not limited to child and adult protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Federal and State Departments of Labor.
Q10. Who in the law enforcement agency can sign Form I-918B?
A. A certifying official(s) can sign Form I-918B. The U visa regulation defines a certifying official as: “[t]he head of the certifying agency, or any person(s) in a supervisory role who has been specifically designated by the head of the certifying agency to issue U non-immigrant status certifications on behalf of that agency.” 8 C.F.R. § 214.14(a)(3).
Q11. What if the victim or witness in my case has been detained or ordered removed for an immigration violation?
A. Individuals currently in removal proceedings or with final orders of removal may still apply for a U visa. Absent special circumstances or aggravating factors, it is against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy to initiate removal proceedings against an individual known to be the immediate victim or witness to a crime. To avoid deterring individuals from reporting crimes, ICE has issued guidance to remind ICE officers, special agents, and attorneys to exercise all appropriate discretion on a case-by-case basis when making detention and enforcement decisions in the cases of victims of crime, witnesses to crime, and individuals pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints. Particular attention should be paid to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, or other serious crimes, and witnesses involved in pending criminal investigations or prosecutions.
Q12. Can I complete a U visa certification for a victim who is no longer in the United States?
A. Yes. While the crime must have occurred in the United States, its territories, or possessions, or have violated U.S. law, victims do not need to be present in the U.S. in order to be eligible for a U visa and may apply from outside the United States.
Q13. Does the victim have to testify to be eligible for certification?
A. There is no requirement that an arrest, prosecution, or conviction occur for someone to be eligible for a U visa. While there is no requirement for the victim to testify at a trial to be eligible for a U visa, if the victim is requested to testify, he or she cannot unreasonably refuse to cooperate with law enforcement. If the victim unreasonably refuses to testify, the law enforcement agency should notify USCIS and may withdraw the previously signed Form I-918B.
Q14. Can a victim’s petition still be approved if the defendant is acquitted or accepted a plea to a lesser charge, or if the case was dismissed?
A. Yes. As mentioned above, a conviction is not required for someone to be eligible for a U visa. Plea agreements and dismissals do not negatively impact the victim’s eligibility. As long as the victim has been helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity and meets all other eligibility requirements, the victim may petition for a U visa.
Q15. If one crime is initially investigated but a different crime is eventually prosecuted, does that have an impact on the certification?
A. A law enforcement certification is valid regardless of whether the initial crime being investigated is different from the crime that is eventually prosecuted. As long as the person is a victim of a qualifying criminal activity, that person may be eligible for a U visa.
Q16. If the victim is a child, why would a non-citizen parent ask for a certification stating that the parent was the victim?
A. In many cases where a child is the victim of a crime, the child may not be able to provide law enforcement with adequate assistance. This may be due to the child’s age or trauma suffered, among various other reasons. Parents of a child victim play a crucial role in detecting and reporting crimes, providing information and assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime committed against the child. Recognizing this, an alien parent can apply to be recognized as an “indirect victim” if the principal victim is a child under 21 years of age and is incompetent or incapacitated to provide assistance to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime committed against the child or if the child is deceased due to murder or manslaughter. The immigration status of the child victim is not relevant to this determination; Form I-918B can be submitted for an alien parent whether or not the child is a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen.
The parent(s), in order to qualify as an “indirect victim”, must meet the remaining eligibility requirements for a U visa to receive an approval. Therefore, the “indirect victim” parents must have information about the crime, and must be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime and the crime must have occurred in the United States or violated U.S. law.
Q17. What constitutes “possesses information”?
A. To be eligible for a U visa, the victim of the crime must possess credible and reliable information establishing that the victim has knowledge of the details of the criminal activity or events leading up to the criminal activity, including specific facts about the crime/victimization leading law enforcement to determine that the victim has assisted, is assisting, or is likely to provide assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
Q18. Will USCIS approve a victim with a criminal history?
A. USCIS may deny a U visa petition for a variety of reasons including if the victim’s criminal history warrants such a decision. Denials may occur in cases where a victim has multiple arrests, convictions, or has a serious or violent criminal arrest record. USCIS will also deny a petition if the victim was complicit or culpable in the qualifying criminal activity of which he or she claims the victimization occurred. The fact that a victim has a criminal history does not automatically preclude approval of U status. USCIS has broad authority to waive most inadmissibility issues, including criminal issues. Each U visa petition is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.