WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), marking a significant milestone in its efforts to provide relief to victims of crimes, has for the second straight year approved 10,000 petitions for U nonimmigrant status, also referred to as the U-visa.
On an annual basis, 10,000 U-visas are set aside for victims of crime who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute crime.
“Providing immigration protection to victims of crime and their families while aiding law enforcement efforts to bring criminals to justice is of the utmost importance to the Agency and the public we serve,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.
Due in large part to public education and partnerships forged with law enforcement agencies and service providers, USCIS reached the statutory maximum of 10,000 U-visas per fiscal year for the second year in a row since it began approving petitions for them in 2008. It is a significant milestone for the program created by Congress to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes while at the same time offering protection to victims of such crimes. More than 45,000 victims and their immediate family members have received U-visas since the implementation of this program.
As part of this effort, USCIS adjudications officers have traveled to 30 cities, including Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle and Los Angeles to train federal, state and local law enforcement and immigrant-serving organizations on immigration protections available to immigrants who are victims of human trafficking, domestic violence and other crimes.
USCIS will continue to accept and adjudicate new U-visa petitions, and will resume issuing U-visas on Oct. 1, 2011, the first day of fiscal year 2012.