Green Card for a Victim of a Crime (U Nonimmigrant)

U.S. immigration law allows foreign nationals who have been victims of certain crimes and granted U nonimmigrant status (U visa) to become lawful permanent residents (get a Green Card). To qualify for a Green Card as a crime victim, you must have U nonimmigrant status and meet certain eligibility requirements. U-1 nonimmigrant status is for victims of certain crimes who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse and are helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

Qualifying family members of U-1 nonimmigrants may receive U-2 (spouse), U-3 (child), U-4 (parent), or U-5 (sibling) nonimmigrant status. For more information about U visas, see Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status.

This page provides specific information for foreign nationals (and qualifying family members) in the United States who have U nonimmigrant status and want to apply to become lawful permanent residents based on their U nonimmigrant status. This is called “adjustment of status.” You should also read the Instructions for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (PDF, 545 KB) before you apply.

Eligibility for Principal Applicant (U-1)

To be eligible for a Green Card based on U-1 nonimmigrant status, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You properly file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • You were lawfully admitted in U-1 nonimmigrant status;
  • You are in U-1 nonimmigrant status at the time you file your Form I-485;
  • You have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years since you were admitted as a U-1 nonimmigrant. You must have at least three years of continuous presence at the time you file your Form I-485 and must continue to be physically present through the date that USCIS makes a decision on your adjustment application;
  • You have not unreasonably refused to provide assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity, starting from when you were first admitted as a U-1 nonimmigrant through the date that USCIS makes a decision on your application;
  • You are not inadmissible under INA section 212(a)(3)(E);
  • Your presence in the United States is justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or is in the public interest; and
  • You merit a favorable exercise of discretion (see Discretion below).

Ground of Inadmissibility

If you are adjusting status based on U nonimmigrant status, you are not generally required to be admissible to the United States. However, if you have participated in Nazi persecution, genocide, or the commission of any act of torture or extrajudicial killing, you are inadmissible under INA 212(a)(3)(E) and you are ineligible for a Green Card. USCIS cannot waive this ground of inadmissibility or provide any other form of relief for this ground of inadmissibility.

If you have committed any act that would count as a ground of inadmissibility, USCIS will consider that information when adjudicating your application. Read the Discretion section immediately below for more information.

Discretion

Adjustment of status based on U nonimmigrant status is not an automatic benefit, so you bear the burden of showing that USCIS should use its discretion to approve your adjustment of status application. When making a discretionary decision on your application, USCIS will take into account all factors, including those acts that would otherwise make you inadmissible.

Generally, favorable factors such as family ties, hardship, and length of residence in the United States may be sufficient for USCIS to use its discretion to approve your application. However, when adverse factors are present in your case, you may offset these by submitting supporting documentation of favorable factors you wish USCIS to consider.

How to Apply

If you are currently in the United States and you meet certain other requirements, you may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.   

Confidentiality Protections

If you are in U nonimmigrant status, special confidentiality protections apply to you. These are described in 8 U.S.C. section 1367 and in the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 1, Part A, Chapter 5, Privacy and Confidentiality.

Also, the law prohibits USCIS from denying your application based on information provided solely by your abuser and other prohibited sources. USCIS cannot disclose any information about you to third parties, except in certain limited circumstances.

What to Submit (Principal Applicant)

You should submit the following documents and evidence to apply for a Green Card as a U-1 nonimmigrant in the United States:

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • Copy of Form I-797, Approval Notice, for your Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status;
  • Copies of every page of all passports or equivalent travel documents that were valid while you were in U-1 nonimmigrant status (or a valid explanation of why you do not have this evidence);
  • If you departed from the United States while in U-1 nonimmigrant status, you must submit evidence showing the dates of each departure from the United States, the date and each place of return to the United States, and the reason for each departure;
  • If you were absent from the United States for any period in excess of 90 days or for any periods in the aggregate exceeding 180 days, you must submit a certification from the investigating or prosecuting agency that the absences were necessary to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity or were otherwise justified;
  • Your own affidavit attesting to your continuous physical presence and evidence of continuous physical presence (for more details, go to the “Additional Instructions for Human Trafficking Victims and Crime Victims” section in the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB));
  • Evidence you were lawfully admitted in U-1 nonimmigrant status and continue to hold such status at the time you file Form I-485;
  • Evidence that you complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity (for more details, go to the “Additional Instructions for Human Trafficking Victims and Crime Victims” section in the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB));
  • Evidence that adjustment of status is warranted as a matter of discretion on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or is otherwise in the public interest (for more details, go to the “Additional Instructions for Human Trafficking Victims and Crime Victims” section in the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB));
  • Two passport-style photographs;
  • Copy of your government-issued identity document with photograph;
  • Copy of your birth certificate;
  • Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record or copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document (if applicable)  

Note: If CBP provided you with an electronic Form I-94 upon your arrival/admission to the United States, you may print out a paper version of the Form I-94 from the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/I94;  

Note: Certain forms, including Form I-485, have a filing fee. You must submit the correct filing fee for each form unless you are eligible for a fee waiver. Please see USCIS’ Filing Fees and Fee Schedule for more information.

Please also see our page on Tips for Filing Forms with USCIS.

Family Members

Certain relatives of a U-1 nonimmigrant may also qualify for a Green Card, either as a derivative applicant or a qualifying family member who has never held derivative U nonimmigrant status.

Derivative U Nonimmigrant Family Member

If you meet all of the requirements listed in the next section, you may apply for a Green Card if you were granted derivative status as a U-1 nonimmigrant’s:

  • spouse (U-2);
  • parent (U-3);
  • child (U-4); or
  • sibling (U-5).

Eligibility Criteria for Adjustment of Status as a Derivative U Nonimmigrant Family Member

You are eligible for a Green Card based on derivative U nonimmigrant status if you meet the following requirements:

  • You properly file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • You are physically present in the United States at the time you file your Form I-485;
  • You were lawfully admitted in U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 nonimmigrant status before the U-1  nonimmigrant adjusted status;
  • You are in U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 nonimmigrant status at the time you file your Form I-485;
  • You have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least three years since you were admitted as a derivative U nonimmigrant (You must have at least three years of continuous physical presence at the time you file your Form I-485 and must continue to be physically present through the date that USCIS makes a decision on your adjustment application);
  • You are not inadmissible under INA section 212(a)(3)(E);
  • Your presence in the United States is justified on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or because it is in the public interest; and
  • You merit a favorable exercise of discretion (see Discretion above).

If you meet these eligibility requirements, you do not have to wait for the U-1 nonimmigrant (the principal applicant) to file Form I-485. You may file an application before or after the U-1 nonimmigrant files for adjustment. You may also apply to adjust status even if the U-1 nonimmigrant never files his or her own Form I-485.   

If the U-1 nonimmigrant adjusts status before you are initially admitted as a U nonimmigrant, you will no longer be able to be admitted as a U nonimmigrant. However, you may still be eligible to adjust status or apply for an immigrant visa as a qualifying family member. See the Qualifying Family Members Who Have Never Held Derivative U Nonimmigrant Status section below.

See USCIS Policy Memorandum on Extension of Status for T and U Nonimmigrants (PDF, 133 KB).

What to Submit (Derivative U Nonimmigrant Family Member)

If you are a derivative U nonimmigrant family member, you should submit the following documents and evidence to apply to adjust status:

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • Copy of Form I-797, Approval Notice, for your Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient;
  • Copies of every page of all passports or equivalent travel documents that were valid while you were in U nonimmigrant status (or a valid explanation of why you do not have this evidence);
  • If you departed from the United States while in derivative U nonimmigrant status, you must submit evidence showing the dates of each departure from the United States, the date and place of each return to the United States, and the reason for each departure (if applicable);
  • Your own affidavit attesting to your physical presence and evidence of your continuous physical presence (for more details, go to the “Additional Instructions for Human Trafficking Victims and Crime Victims” section in the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB));
  • Evidence that you were lawfully admitted in U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 nonimmigrant status and continue to hold such status at the time you file Form I-485;
  • Evidence that adjustment of status is warranted as a matter of discretion on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or is otherwise in the public interest (for more details, go to the “Additional Instructions for Human Trafficking Victims and Crime Victims” section in the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB));
  • Two passport-style photographs;
  • Copy of your government-issued identity document with photograph;
  • Copy of your birth certificate;
  • Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record or copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection admission or parole stamp on the travel document (if applicable);

Note: If CBP provided you with an electronic I-94 upon arrival/admission to the United States, you may print out a paper version of the Form I-94 from the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/I94;

Note: Certain forms, including Form I-485, have a filing fee. You must submit the correct filing fee for each form unless you are eligible for a fee waiver. Please see USCIS’ Filing Fees and Fee Schedule for more information.

Please also see our page on Tips for Filing Forms with USCIS.

Qualifying Family Members Who Have Never Held Derivative U Nonimmigrant Status

At the same time (or after) applying to adjust status, the U-1 nonimmigrant may file Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant. Form I-929 is used to petition for qualifying family members who have never held derivative U nonimmigrant status. Qualifying family members include:

  • spouse;
  • child (unmarried and under 21 years of age); and
  • parent (of a U-1 nonimmigrant who is under 21 years of age). 

If you are inside the United States and have an approved Form I-929, you may apply immediately for a Green Card.

If you are outside the United States and have an approved Form I-929, USCIS will forward the approved petition to the Department of State so that you may apply for an immigrant visa at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or consulate. You must be admitted to the United States before applying to adjust status. For more information, see our Consular Processing page.

Eligibility Criteria for Adjustment of Status as a Qualifying Family Member Who Has Never Held U Nonimmigrant Status

You are eligible for adjustment of status as a qualifying family member if you meet the following requirements:

Note: The qualifying family relationship that formed the basis of your Form I-929 approval must exist at the time the U-1 nonimmigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident. That relationship must continue to exist through the time USCIS adjudicates your Form I-485.  

What to Submit (Qualifying Family Members Who Have Never Held U Nonimmigrant Status)

If you are a qualifying family member, you should submit the following documents and evidence to apply to adjust status:

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • Copy of Form I-797, Approval Notice, showing approval for your Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant;
  • Evidence that the U-1 nonimmigrant who filed Form I-929 on your behalf has an approved or pending Form I-485;
  • Evidence that the qualifying relationship between you and the U-1 nonimmigrant continues to exist;
  • Two passport-style photographs;
  • Copy of your government-issued identity document with photograph;
  • Copy of your birth certificate;
  • Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record or copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection admission or parole stamp on the travel document (if applicable);
  • Note: If CBP provided you with an electronic I-94 upon arrival/admission to the United States, you may print out a paper version of the Form I-94 from the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/I94;
  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (you may submit this form together with Form I-485 or later when we request it); and
  • Certified police and court records of criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (if applicable).

For more details, see the “Additional Instructions for Human Trafficking Victims and Crime Victims” section in the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB).

Note: Certain forms, including Form I-485, have a filing fee. You must submit the correct filing fee for each form, unless you are eligible for a fee waiver. Please see USCIS’ Filing Fees and Fee Schedule for more information.

Please also see our page on Tips for Filing Forms with USCIS.

Employment and Travel Authorization

Generally, when you have a pending Form I-485, you may apply for employment authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

If you need to leave the United States temporarily while your Form I-485 is pending, please see Form I-131, Application for Travel Document and its instructions for more information. Generally, if you have a pending Form I-485 and you leave the United States without an advance parole document, you will have abandoned your application.

For further information, see our Employment Authorization and Travel Documents pages.

Legal Reference

For more information, see the following:

  • INA 101(a)(15)(u) – Definition of a U nonimmigrant
  • INA 212(a) – Classes of Aliens Ineligible for Visas or Admission
  • INA 212(d)(3) and (d)(14) – Temporary Admission of Nonimmigrants
  • INA 245(m) – Adjustment of Status of Nonimmigrant to that of a Person Admitted for Permanent Residence (U nonimmigrants)
  • 8 CFR 212.17 – Applications for the Exercise of Discretion Relating to U Nonimmigrant Status
  • 8 CFR 214.14 – Alien Victims of Certain Qualifying Criminal Activity
  • 8 CFR 245.24 – Adjustment of Aliens in U nonimmigrant status

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Last Reviewed/Updated: