Under federal and California State law, certain undocumented crime victims who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse and are helpful to law enforcement are eligible to apply for a U nonimmigrant status visa (U visa). The U visa allows eligible victims to live and work in the United States for up to four years with the possibility of obtaining permanent resident status.

To qualify, a victim must obtain certification from a local, state or federal law enforcement agency documenting his/her helpfulness in the investigation and prosecution of the designated crime of which he/she was a victim.

If a victim believes he/she may qualify for a U visa, the victim or his/her representative must complete the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Form I-918, Supplement B (for U visa) and submit it to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department for consideration. The USCIS I-918 Supplement B form is available on the USCIS (www.uscis.gov) website.

What is a U-Visa?

The U-Visa was created to provide temporary immigration benefits to undocumented immigrants who are victims of qualifying criminal activity, and to their qualifying family members, as appropriate.

The U-Visa is available to undocumented immigrants who have met each of the five points below:

  1. Has been the victim of one or more qualifying crimes;
  2. Has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of one or more qualifying crimes;
  3. Has useful information concerning the crime which occurred;
  4. Has helped, or is likely to help, in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and
  5. The crime committed violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States.

What Are Qualifying Crimes?

The serious crimes listed in the table below are qualifying crimes. If you have been a victim of one or more of these crimes and cooperate with authorities, you may be eligible to apply for a U-Visa.

U-Visa Qualifying Crimes

  • Abduction
  • Abusive sexual contact
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic Violence
  • Extortion
  • False imprisonment
  • Felonious assault
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Fraud in foreign labor contracting
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Slave trade
  • Stalking
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Unlawful criminal restraint
  • Witness tampering
  • Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above crimes

How to Apply for a U-Visa

The U-Visa certification process begins with a request being received by the San Diego Sheriff's Department, usually through the victim’s advocate and/or attorney, related to a crime that occurred in the San Diego Sheriff's Department jurisdiction. The Department’s role is to certify that:

  • The U-Visa applicant is the victim of a qualifying crime
  • The applicant is, has been, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity

In order to expedite the process, please fill out and print the related U Visa Questionnaire answering the questions to the best of your ability. This questionnaire will only aid the investigating official in quickly completing and returning your U Visa request. Once completed, please print your U Visa Questionnaire and submit it along with your USCIS I-918 Supplement B form to the following address:

U Visa Questionnaire

San Diego Sheriff's Department / U-Visa
Major Crimes Division
5590 Overland Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123

In addition, a self-addressed stamped envelope must accompany all applications.

Depending on the final disposition of the assessment of “helpfulness,” the Sheriff's Department will issue a Law Enforcement Certification (USCIS Form I-918) or deny the request. It is then up to the U-Visa applicant to submit his/her U-Visa application, including the Certification of Assistance, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for processing.