USCIS Approves Full Quota of U Visa Applications04 Sep 2012
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 21, 2012, that for the third straight year it has approved 10,000 U visa petitions, the maximum quota allowed under the law. This clearly demonstrates the importance of this category, available to victims of certain crimes. It also reflects the success of outreach efforts to law enforcement and related agencies, who must participate in the process so that a victim may apply for the U visa. This announcement is available on the USCIS WebSite.
Background: U Visa to Help Victims of Trafficking
The U category was created as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000. More than 61,000 victims and their family members have received U visas since the program was implemented in 2008. Information on the U visa and its history can be found on MurthyDotCom in our NewsBrief, DOL to Certify U Visa Applications (02.Apr.2010).
Annual Quota of U Visas
Each year, 10,000 U visas are available to help victims of specified crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. The first year’s usage of the full visa allotment was reported in our MurthyBlog entry entitled, USCIS: U Visa Program Fully Utilized in Fiscal 2010 (28.Jul.2010).
U Visa Requires Certification by Law Enforcement Agency
A key problem with the U visa program is that eligibility for the foreign national depends upon certification from an appropriate law enforcement agency. This leaves the fate of these victims in the hands of state or local officials, some of whom lack the necessary understanding and/or willingness to assist in such immigration-related matters.
USCIS Expands U Visa Outreach to Various Agencies
In the past several years, the USCIS has used partnerships with law enforcement and other organizations to expand its public education and outreach efforts. USCIS officers have traveled to more than forty (40) U.S. cities to train federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies on the protections U visas provide to victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and other serious crimes. A partial list of crimes eligible for U visa consideration was included in our NewsBrief entitled, DOL to Certify U Visa Applications (02.Apr.2010), available on MurthyDotCom.
We at the Murthy Law Firm applaud USCIS efforts to approve the maximum number of U visas to qualified victims of crime and their families each year. The U visa program not only helps law enforcement efforts to prosecute cases of serious and harmful crimes, it helps victims who may not have any other immigration options. Some of the victims may not be able to return to their home countries for a variety of reasons, including fear of retaliation from their abusers or abusers’ families. Changes to the important U visa program will be tracked and updates provided to MurthyDotCom readers.
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