U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved the maximum of 10,000 petitions for U-1 nonimmigrant status (U visas) for the fiscal year 2016. This marks the seventh straight year that USCIS has reached the statutory maximum since it began issuing U visas in 2009.
U visas are available for victims of certain qualifying crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute those crimes. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, abduction, blackmail, hostage situations, slave trade, torture, prostitution, incest, false imprisonment, felonious assault, fraud in foreign labor, perjury, involuntary servitude, stalking, torture, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also offering protection to victims. Importantly, the crime in question must have occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
Although USCIS has reached the statutory cap of 10,000 U visas, it will continue to review pending petitions for eligibility. For eligible petitioners who cannot be granted a U-1 visa solely because of the cap, USCIS will send a letter notifying them that they are on a waiting list to receive a U visa when visas become available again. USCIS will resume issuing U visas on October 1, 2016, the first day of fiscal year 2017, when visas become available again.
At the Shulman Law Group, LLC, we have successfully assisted many clients who were victims of qualifying crimes to obtain a U visa. Our staff helps immigrant victims to complete the necessary applications, procure certifying documents to prove that they were helpful to law enforcement, and to obtain necessary emotional support during the process. We work closely with psychologists who are trained to provide comprehensive reports for immigration purposes as well as to offer therapeutic assistance.