Skip to main content

The "U" Visa for Crime Victims--A Major Backlog Has Arisen

The "U" visa program created as part of the Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA) was, and is, a good idea and an effective tool for law enforcement.  As a society, we want people, (including undocumented people) to come forward and report crimes, both as victims and witnesses, in order to bring law enforcement into situations and locations that can assist innocent victims, punish criminals and fight crime.  The "U" visa is available to 10,000 people a year who are harmed as victims, or indirect victims, of typically violent crimes.   Once the "U" visa is issued, the individual is converted to legal status in the United States, and after three years in this status can seek lawful permanent residence (a green card).  That said, the program itself, like every other program that Congress caps with an artificially limited number of visas, has become a shadow of its former self.

In just released Fiscal Year 2015 numbers, USCIS let the public know that more than 110,303 "U" visa applications are pending decision by the USCIS.  There are also 17,694 U visa petitions that were actually approved during Fiscal Year 2015.  The USCIS approves around 80% of the "U" visa applications that it receives (on average).  This means, that if the USCIS receives zero "U" visa applications in Fiscal Year 2016 (which of course is not going to happen), there will be about 100,000 people with approved "U" visa petitions waiting for the 10,000 "U" visa slots that can be actually issued each year.  That means for new applicants in Fiscal Year 2106, there will be at least a 10-12 year wait for issuance of the "U" visa status, with permanent residence at least 13 years away.

That is not the worst of these numbers.  Each year for the last six year we have seen an increasing number of "U" visa petitions filed.  In Fiscal Year 2015, USCIS received 52,666 applications. This number alone is almost a 5 year supply of "U" visas! If this trend continues, at the end of Fiscal Year 2016, there will be a 15 year supply for "U" visa approved petitions, with permanent residence and later citizenship almost a decade beyond that.  Twenty Five years; think about that.

What does USCIS do for approved applicants if there are no "U" visa petitions available to be distributed?  It puts these individuals on "Deferred Action" status, which, technically speaking is not a status.  This status comes without the right to travel at this time (something that a "U" visa status holder has). And, while an approved applicant with "Deferred Action" can receive a work permit, the permit typically must be approved every two years.  It is essentially decades of temporariness with the hope of a resolution that is years away.

So, once again, we have a congressionally created program that started with good intentions, but has ended up in crisis.  Victims of crime are real people.  They come forward seeking law enforcement assistance and seeking justice under our legal system.  Unfortunately, these victims of crime will not receive any timely justice from the immigration system..


  1. If approvable applicant get at least differed action, still we happy but USCIS not processing any single application since 8 to 9 months and some applicant waiting since 22 months.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

If You Are An Immigrant (even a US Citizen), Here Are 9 Things You Should Know

Are you a Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, Visa Holder, or an Undocumented Immigrant? We recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself in our current version of America.
The last couple of weeks have reminded immigrants, even naturalized U.S. citizens, that they were not born in the United States. Our office has received countless phone calls, emails, and social media messages from people worrying about what their family’s future in the United States holds.
Most people want to know what they can do now to protect themselves from what promises to be a wave of anti-immigration activity by the federal government. Trump's Executive Order on Interior Enforcement has some provisions that should make most Americans shiver.  We recommend the following actions for each of the following groups:
Naturalized U.S. citizens. In particular if you have a foreign accent, and you are traveling within 100 miles of any US Border (including the oceans), we strongly rec…

Why is USCIS Taking So Long to Renew DACA Work Permits?

If the calls to our office are any indicator, there are thousands of DACA recipients whose work permit applications were filed at least three months prior to expiration, who are still waiting for their renewed work permits.  Without renewed permits, these individuals lose the right to work legally, the right to drive, and may once again accrue unlawful presence.

The DHS published a notice in October 2014 advising DACA recipients that they could file their request for extension up to 150 days (5 months) prior to expiration.  As with all things government, very few of the DACA recipients, who tend not to frequent government websites, knew about the memo and many did not file so far before expiration perhaps thinking that extending a work permit was a like extending a drivers license, its is done in a few minutes.  As an experienced immigration lawyer will tell you, the USCIS does nothing quickly, and certainly does not worry that a person may lose their job or their driver's licens…


Todas las personas en los Estados Unidos, incluidos los extranjeros y aun los con ordenes de deportacion, tienen ciertos derechos básicos que deben ser respetados por los agentes de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE). Estos derechos se derivan tanto de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. y las leyes de Estados Unidos. Como extranjero, usted tiene los siguientes derechos:

Usted tiene el derecho de negar la entrada a un agente de ICE a su casa sin una orden válida. Esta orden debe ser firmado por un juez. Usted puede negarse a abrir la puerta, o se puede cerrar la puerta después de descubrir que el agente no tiene una orden válida. Los agentes del ICE generalmente no vienen con una orden judicial. Estos agentes suelen venir a la casa de alguien con una orden final de deportación, muy temprano en la mañana. Si alguien está golpeando en su puerta a las 6:00 am, no le es requerido abrir la puerta. Mirar fuera de primera. Si es un agente del gobierno, ust…