For the first time since the program’s inception, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved 10,000 petitions (the statutory maximum per fiscal year) for U nonimmigrant status through extensive collaboration and outreach. The U visa was created in the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act, enacted in October 2000. It is available to noncitizens who 1) have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse resulting from a wide range of criminal activity, and 2) have been helpful, are being helpful or are likely to be helpful with the investigation or prosecution of the crime. The U visa provides eligible immigrants with authorized stay in the United States and employment authorization. “Through the U visa, USCIS is able to provide crime victims with critical immigration protection, allowing law enforcement officials to protect victims and bring the perpetrators of crimes to justice,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “Through our partnership with both law enforcement and service providers, and through the dedicated work of our staff, we were able to reach – and provide this vital benefit to – thousands of deserving individuals.”
USCIS will resume issuing U visas on October 1, 2010, the first day of fiscal year 2011. Until then, USCIS will continue to accept new petitions for U visas and will place conditionally approved petitioners on a waiting list. Conditionally approved petitioners and qualifying family members will be able to legally remain in the United States and request work authorization. This protection also applies to conditionally approved petitioners or any qualifying family members who are in removal proceedings or have a final order of removal.