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Legal Information: Federal


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January 30, 2018

Who can be considered a “victim of crime” to be eligible for U visa status?

One of the basic requirements to obtain U visa status is that you are the “victim” of certain crimes.1 This definition includes what is known as “direct victims” and “indirect victims.”2

Direct victims are people who have suffered direct and proximate (immediate) harm as a result of a crime.3

Indirect victims include certain relatives of direct victims when the direct victim is:

  • dead due to murder or manslaughter; or
  • incompetent or incapacitated and cannot provide information about the crime or be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.

If your U.S. citizen child is the victim, and you are undocumented, you may be able to apply for a U visa as an indirect victim. For more information, see If my U.S. citizen child is a victim of a crime, can I (the undocumented parent) qualify for a U visa?

The relatives that may qualify as “indirect victims” include:

  • the direct victim’s spouse; and
  • the direct victim’s unmarried children under 21 years old.
  • If the direct victim is under 21 years old, his/her parents and minor siblings (under 18 years old) may also be considered indirect victims.

Note: When determining possible indirect victims, USCIS will look at the age of the victim at the time the crime was committed.4

Please note that no matter if you are applying as a direct victim or as an indirect victim, you will be considered a “principal applicant,” and not a “derivative.” A “principal applicant” is a person who applies for an immigration benefit and from whom another person (usually a family member) may also receive lawful status as a “derivative” under immigration law.5 Note: Do not confuse derivatives (who do not have to meet all U visa status eligibility requirements but must show they are admissible) with indirect victims who do have to meet all U visa status eligibility requirements. As principal applicants, both direct and indirect victims will have to prove they meet the eligibility requirements for U visa status.

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) & (a)(i)
3 8 CFR § 214.14(a)
4 8 CFR § 214.14(a)(i)
5 USCIS website – Glossary