U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) recently announced it has approved 10,000 U visas in fiscal year 2013—the fourth straight year in which the U visa cap has been reached. U visas, which are processed on Form I-918, are special visas designed to encourage the cooperation of undocumented immigrants with law enforcement. It offers the possibility of lawful immigrant status to victims of violent crimes who have worked with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of those crimes. Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan has previously written about U visas and the possibility of crime victims obtaining legal status. Click here to see the prior blog post. Since the program began, more than 76,000 victims and their family members have received U visas.
The provision of law that authorizes the U visa provides that only 10,000 such visas may be approved per year. This limit applies to principal applicants, however, U visa applicants may also include certain qualifying family members (referred to as derivatives) with their U visa applications; these additional family members are not counted towards the U visa cap.
When the 10,000 limit is reached, USCIS is prohibited from approving any more U visas until the start of the next fiscal year. In the interim, USCIS will continue to accept U visa applications for processing. Those applications that would be granted but for the 10,000 limit may be placed on a waiting list and granted deferred action or parole as a temporary measure until visa numbers are once again available. USCIS will once again resume issuing U visas on October 1, 2013, which is the start of the federal fiscal year.
If you have been a victim of a crime and would like to discuss your eligibility for U nonimmigrant status, please contact Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. to schedule a consultation.