USCIS Reaches U Visa Limit for FY17

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved 10,000 U visa petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2017, the maximum allowed per year by law under this category. The U visa is reserved for victims of certain types of crime who cooperate with law enforcement to prosecute the perpetrator/s. This high level of demand for U visas has resulted in very long wait times for foreign nationals applying for this immigration benefit.

Background on U Visas

The U category was created as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000. More than 125,000 victims and their respective families have benefited from this program since it was first implemented in FY09. More details on the program are available in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Enhancements to U Category Help to Better Protect Crime Victims (23.Jul.2014).

Cap Reached for FY17

Demand in this category has dramatically grown each year, leading to extensive backlogs. The only reason the U visa cap of 10,000 was not reached earlier in the fiscal year is because the USCIS is staggering the issuance of approvals for this visa category.

Even though the U visa cap has been reached for FY17, the USCIS will continue to accept and review new U applications. Individuals who are found to be eligible will receive notification that they have been placed on a waitlist. The process of getting placed on the waitlist is currently taking about two years. These individuals will be granted deferred action, meaning they will not be removed (i.e. deported) from the United States while waiting for visa numbers to become available. Further, these individuals may apply for employment authorization documents (EADs).


The Murthy Law Firm recognizes the strong interest of the U.S. government to protect foreign nationals who are victims of crime and who can help law enforcement to bring wrongdoers to justice. The U visa provides much-needed protections to those who otherwise may be reluctant to contact authorities after being victimized.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.