U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the approval of 10,000 petitions for U-1 non-immigrant status (U visas) for fiscal year 2014. This is the statutory ceiling for U visas and stands as the fifth consecutive year that USCIS has reached the maximum since it began issuing U visas in 2008.
Congress created the U visa program to strengthen the law enforcement community’s ability to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes, while also offering protection to victims.
In exchange helping law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute certain qualifying crimes, victims are provided refuge in the United States. A U visa petition must be certified from law enforcement.
Critics site abuse by some fraudulent lawyers and petitions, but USCIS credits the program with protecting more than 89,600 victims and their family members since 2008.
Though USCIS has reached its cap of 10,000 U visas, it will continue to review pending petitions for eligibility. USCIS will send a letter to all eligible petitioners who, due solely to the cap, are not granted U-1 visas, notifying them that they are on a waiting list to receive a U visa when visas again become available and what options they have in the interim. Petitioners and qualifying family members must continue to meet eligibility requirements at the time the U visa is issued.
USCIS will resume issuing U visas on Oct. 1, 2014, the first day of fiscal year 2015, when visas become available again.
Visit the USCIS website for more information about U Visas and Victims of Criminal Activity.