USCIS Reaches U Visa Cap
Due to the overwhelming success of the program, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached its statutory cap for the issuance of U Visas, as it has every year since the program was created. The U Visa, a special nonimmigrant visa, allows victims of certain exploitative and violent crimes to remain in the U.S. legally in order to assist with law enforcement efforts. The program was created in 2008 with a statutory cap of 10,000 visas per year.
On December 11, 2013, USCIS announced that it had reached its cap for the current fiscal year. As a result, it cannot issue any more U Visas until October 1, 2014. However, it does intend to place those who have applied and appear to be eligible on a priority waiting list when it again begins issuing these visas.
U Visas are one of many special immigration programs that are not available to most individuals but may apply in very specific circumstances. In order to qualify, an applicant must meet all of the following criteria:
- The applicant must be the victim of one of the specified types of criminal activity.
- The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to said activity.
- The applicant must have information relating to said criminal activity.
- A law enforcement agency must certify that the applicant has been helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful in the investigation of such activity.
- The activity must have occurred in the U.S. or otherwise violate U.S. law.
- The applicant must be otherwise admissible or must qualify for an appropriate waiver.
Numerous special programs can provide immigration benefits and relief to those who do not qualify through more common means. An experienced immigration attorney can determine if any of these programs applies to you, your family member or your employee.