U-Visa and Family Members: Derivative Beneficiaries


The U-Visa, categorized as a non-immigrant visa, offers support to individuals who have been victims of specific crimes, experiencing either mental or physical abuse. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate their readiness to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, actively participating in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activities they have experienced. Beyond the primary U-Visa recipient, the program recognizes the importance of keeping families united by allowing certain family members to be classified as derivative beneficiaries.

  1. Primary U-Visa Recipient:

The primary beneficiary is typically the victim of the qualifying crime who cooperates with law enforcement. To be eligible, the applicant must demonstrate their willingness to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.

  1. Derivative Beneficiaries:

Derivative beneficiaries are family members of the primary U-Visa recipient who can also benefit from the U-Visa status. These include:

· Spouse: A legally married partner of the primary U-Visa recipient.
· Children: Unmarried children under 21 years of age, including stepchildren, qualify as derivative beneficiaries.
· Parents: If the primary recipient is under 21, parents can be considered derivative beneficiaries.

  1. Benefits for Derivative Beneficiaries:

· Work Authorization: Derivative beneficiaries are eligible for work authorization in the United States, allowing them to support themselves and contribute to their community.
· Protection from Deportation: Derivative beneficiaries receive protection against deportation as long as the principal U-Visa holder maintains their status.

  1. Application Process for Derivative Beneficiaries:

· Inclusion in the Principal’s Application: Derivative beneficiaries must be included in the primary U-Visa holder’s application, and each family member must meet eligibility requirements.
· Submission of Separate Forms: While included in the principal applicant’s petition, derivative family members must also submit individual forms to establish their relationship with the primary beneficiary.

  1. Maintaining Derivative Status:

· Family Unity: Derivative beneficiaries must maintain a unified family by residing with the principal U-Visa holder.
· Aging Out Protections: Derivative children who turn 21 during the application process are protected from “aging out” and losing eligibility.

Understanding the U-Visa and its provisions for derivative beneficiaries is crucial for families seeking protection and stability after being victims of crime. This humanitarian program emphasizes the significance of keeping families together while ensuring that victims can rebuild their lives in the United States.

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