Complete Guide to U Visa Adjustment of Status

Posted by | Updated on August 25, 2022

The U visa is one of the types of visas where you have the right to remain in the U.S. for as long as the visa is valid. You may be wondering if there is a path from having a U visa to a green card. Read on to learn about U visa adjustment of status and the path to a green card. 

Can U Visa Holders Adjust Status?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has a well-defined path for U visa holders to get a green card. You are eligible to apply for adjustment of status if you:

  • have had a U visa for at least three years and,
  • have been living in the U.S. continuously while you had the visa.

If you meet both of those requirements, you can apply to the USCIS for a U visa adjustment of status. If your application is successful, you will get a green card. You will also be able to live and work in the U.S. for any length of time without worrying about having to leave.

Who is Eligible to Adjust the Status of Their U Visa?

U visa holders and their family members are eligible for U visa adjustment of status including to adjust status while in removal proceedings. Specifically, you can apply for permanent residence if you:

  • have been continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least three years
  • have given all reasonable help to law enforcement officials investigating the crime committed against you associated with your visa
  • have not participated in Nazi persecution, acts of genocide, or extra-judicial killings anywhere in the world
  • can prove to the USCIS that your application should be granted based on humanitarian grounds, or based on family unity or public interest.

A member of your family can also apply for permanent resident status if they:

  • are currently in the U.S.
  • file a Form I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U1 Non-immigrant
  • can prove you would suffer extreme hardship if they had to leave the country
  • have never participated in Nazi persecution, acts of genocide, or extra-judicial killings anywhere in the world.

How to Adjust U Visa Status

The process for U visa adjustment of status is relatively simple. But it can be confusing because of all the documents you have to provide to the USCIS. 

The only thing you need for U visa adjustment of status is to file a Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status

You also need to submit the following adjustment of status checklist of supporting documentation with your form:

  • the application fee, or a Form I-912 Request for Fee Waiver
  • a Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record that is less than 2 months old
  • a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorisation, along with the required supporting documentation for it
  • a Form I-131 Application for Travel Document along with the required supporting documentation for it
  • a copy of the valid Form I-797 Notice of Action that proves that the USCIS already approved your U visa nonimmigrant status
  • a copy of the I-94 Admission record you received when you entered the country. You can download it from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website
  • a copy of every page in your passport, or an explanation for why you don’t have a passport (for example if it was stolen)
  • a copy of your birth certificate. Include an English translation if the original is not in English
  • two passport-sized photos of yourself
  • proof that you have been continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least three years. You can use the following documents to prove this:
    • previous federal tax returns
    • pay stubs
    • leases/rental agreements
    • store receipts
    • utility bills for a residence in the U.S.
    • a letter from your school or employer
    • an affidavit from people who you have been interacting with in the U.S. (e.g. friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, etc).
  • proof that you helped law enforcement officials when they asked for your help during the investigation. You can use Form I-918 Supplement B that you used to apply for your U visa. If you do not have this, you will need to provide an affidavit that describes:
    • all the times you tried to contact law enforcement officials to offer you help while you were on a U visa
    • your reason for failing to help law enforcement officials with the investigation if you ever did.
  • motivation for why the USCIS should grant you permanent residence status. You need to prove that you are eligible for a U visa adjustment of status based on humanitarian grounds because it is in the public interest or based on family unity.

After you have gathered all of these documents, make sure you have a copy of all of them for your records. Then, mail in your application to the USCIS Vermont Service Center at the following address:

75 Lower Welden Street
St. Alban’s
VT 05479

What to Do If Your U Status Will Expire Before You Can Apply for a Green Card

Your U visa allows you to live and work in the United States while it is valid. The period of validity can vary but for many people, it lasts for about four years, although some last for less than three years.

If you want to apply for an adjustment of status, but your U visa is valid for less than three years, you can apply for an extension to your U visa. The maximum period you can extend your U-visa is four years. 

You can extend your U visa by filing a form I-539 Application to Extend Nonimmigrant Visa with the USCIS. 

What Happens After You Apply to Adjust Status? 

After you file your Form I-485 and all the supporting documentation, you will receive a receipt notice from the USCIS to acknowledge that they received your documents. 

After that, you will receive a notice telling you when your appointment is for collecting your biometric information (fingerprints, photograph, and signature).

If the USCIS has further questions about your application you may get a notice that you have been scheduled for an interview at your nearest USCIS office. Make sure to bring the copies you made of all the documents in your application. If you are not fluent in spoken English, you can also bring someone to translate for you.

Can You Travel While Your Adjustment of Status Application is Pending?

Generally, if you leave the U.S. on a U visa without the proper USCIS travel document you may not be allowed to re-enter the country. Even if you are allowed to re-enter the U.S., your application for adjustment of status will be denied because the USCIS will assume you abandoned the application.

If you need to leave the country while your application for adjustment of status is pending, you must file a Form I-131 Application for Travel Document before you leave. 

There are four types of travel documents that the USCIS issues in these circumstances:

  • Advance parole;
  • Refugee travel document;
  • Re-entry permit; and
  • Carrier documentation.

The form I-131 explains what each of these documents is and when it is appropriate for you.

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Final Thoughts 

You can apply for a U visa adjustment of status if you have been in the U.S. for at least three years. The application process can be difficult because there are a lot of different forms and supporting documents you must submit. If you need to leave the country while your application is pending, make sure you have a travel document, or the USCIS will assume you have abandoned your application.

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