USCIS has announced that it has approved the statutory maximum 10,000 petitions for U-1 visa status for FY 2014. The U visa cap has been reached for the fifth straight year since USCIS began issuing U visas in 2008.
USCIS has also announced that while it will resume issuing U visas only on October 1, 2014, the first day of fiscal year 2015, it will continue to review pending petitions for eligibility. USCIS will send a letter to all eligible petitioners who are not granted U-1 visas solely due to the cap, 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, however, continue to meet eligibility requirements at the time the U visa is issued.
About U Visas
U Visas are available for victims of certain qualifying crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. USCIS has noted that more than 89,600 victims and their family members have received U visas since the program was implemented in 2008.
To qualify for the U visa, the following eligibility requirements must be satisfied:
- The individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity;
- The individual must have information concerning that criminal activity;
- The individual must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime;
- The criminal activity must have violated U.S. laws
A petition for U nonimmigrant status must also contain a certification of helpfulness from a certifying agency. Certifying agencies can be Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges or other authority that investigates or prosecutes criminal activity.