US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this month that, as of the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, it had 108,623 U visa applications pending. This number indicates that USCIS currently has more U visas pending than it did in all of fiscal year 2015. The governing regulations dictate that USCIS may only issue 10,000 U visas in each fiscal year. Based on these numbers, we can expect someone who applies for a U visa today to be waiting approximately 5-6 years to receive a U visa.
While this is devastating news in many cases, the silver lining is that U visa applicants are eligible to receive a grant of “deferred action” while waiting for the government to issue the actual visa. Deferred action in this context means that the government will issue a pre-approval notice to U visa applicants – typically 1.5-2 years after the applicant initially applies. The pre-approval letter confers deferred action on the applicant, which, in turn, allows him or her to apply for a work authorization document. The work authorization is then renewable in one-year increments while the applicant waits for the U visa approval.
If you have a U visa pending and have questions about the current backlog, please contact the attorney handling your case. If you are a new client, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you and answer your questions about the U visa.
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