Can the parent of a citizen victim of crime apply for a U visa?

In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® answers the question of a reader who wishes to apply for a U visa based on a crime that happened to her U.S. citizen son.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

This is the column:

My oldest U.S. citizen son suffered an attempt on his life approximately 2 years ago and I was told that I could apply for the U visa for crime victims. Is this true? -Edgar M.

Edgar, it is possible that as an undocumented parent of a U.S. citizen who was the victim of an attempted murder, you may be able to apply for a U visa as an indirect victim. But it is not an easy process and you must be eligible.

Usually, it is the victim who applies for the U visa. But in this case, since your child is a citizen, you could file a U visa application as the principal applicant because you are an indirect victim of the crime.

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

1. Your child must have been under the age of 21 when he or she was the victim of the crime.

2. Your child must be incompetent or incapacitated and unable to provide information about the crime or be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the offense.

3. You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal act against your child.

4. You have cooperated and assisted the authorities in the investigation or prosecution of your offenders.

5. You must have a certification from the authorities verifying your cooperation in the police investigation or judicial prosecution.

If your child was over the age of 21 when the crime occurred, you cannot file a U visa application.

But if your child is 21 years old, you may have other options, since as a citizen he or she could file a family petition on your behalf.

Before filing such a petition, an immigration attorney will have to do an analysis of your entire background to see if you meet all the requirements and qualify for permanent residency through your citizen child.

Who qualifies for the U Visa

Generally, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services grants U visas to undocumented immigrant victims of certain crimes and allows you to include certain immediate family members in your application so that they may derivatively receive permission to live legally in the United States.

Murder, attempted murder and domestic violence are some of the crimes that qualify for the U visa benefit, and must have occurred within the U.S. A full list of qualifying crimes can be found at the USCIS website.

The U visa is a temporary visa extended for a period of four years that gives temporary protection to the victim, allowing him/her to live and work legally in the United States, and may eventually lead to permanent residency if the proper requirements are met.

Edgar, I suggest that you consult with an immigration attorney or a federally accredited representative to verify your immigration options before you begin any legal proceedings.


Dr. Nelson A. Castillo is an immigration attorney and author of The Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residency in the United States and host of immigration television segments on the following subjects El Abogado a Tu Lado on NY1 News. He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Westlake South Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. For information on how to contact Dr. Castillo, please click here. click here.

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. There can be no guarantee or prediction as to what will be the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. This column may be considered an advertisement under the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys in several states, including California and New York. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.