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Legal Information: Federal


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January 30, 2018

In the list of eligibility requirements, what does “substantial physical or mental abuse” mean?

One of the basic requirements to obtain U visa status is that you have suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse” as a result of certain crimes.1 “Physical or mental abuse” means injury or harm to your body, or harm to your emotional or psychological well-being.2

In addition, whether the abuse you suffered is “substantial” depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • the nature of the injury you suffered;
  • the severity of the abuser’s conduct;
  • the severity of the harm you suffered;
  • for how long you suffered the harm; and
  • the extent to which there is permanent or serious harm to your appearance, health, or physical or mental health, including if a pre-existing condition was made worse.

No single factor is required to show that the harm you suffered was substantial. Also, a series of acts taken together may be considered substantial physical or mental abuse, even when each act by itself would not be considered substantial.3 Your statement (declaration) will be key in showing this requirement and, if the harm is not physical, a statement from a victim advocate can be very helpful. (If you are a victim advocate, please contact our Email Hotline for more information on how to best prepare such a statement.)

Note: Here you can see our series of vlogs (videos) in Spanish, with English subtitles, where we discuss what is a U visa, what are the requirements to get a U visa and what crimes qualify someone to get a U visa, among other related topics.

1 INA § 101(a)(15)(U)(i)(I)
2 8 CFR § 214.14(a)(8)
3 8 CFR § 214.14(b)(1)