I previously informed you that U visas for fiscal year 2013-2014 sold out in a few days. But for fiscal year 2014-2015, they will sell out before the U.S. government makes them available.
Each fiscal year the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues 10,000 U visas to eligible individuals.
On October 1, 2014, USCIS will again make available another 10,000 U visas for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. But that does not mean that people who apply for a U visa will be able to get one of them.
The reason: because according to USCIS, there is currently a waiting list of 16,133 people who have been pre-approved for a U visa by USCIS. That means that these individuals will be given priority to receive the next batch of visas available in October.
In other words, before they are released, the 10,000 visas already have an owner, and more than 6,000 others will remain on the waiting list, with priority for the following year. And this is not counting the new applications that USCIS will continue to receive.
I believe that the U.S. Congress should increase the number of U visas available so that persons who have been found eligible can obtain this immigration benefit immediately.
With the increase in U visa applications and approvals, waiting lists will continue to grow and further delay access to permanent residency for thousands of eligible individuals.
How the system works for a U visa
Currently, an individual files an application for a U visa. If the individual meets the requirements and USCIS finds that he or she is eligible, the case is approved for a U visa, if visas are available.
After 3 years and fulfilling several requirements, the person who obtained the U visa can apply for permanent residency.
As there are only 10,000 U visas per year, there are not enough for the high demand.
Therefore, if the USCIS approves a case and a U visa is not available, they cannot officially grant this immigration benefit, but put the person on a waiting list.
What happens to people on the waiting list for a U visa?
Although they do not have a U visa, which allows them to begin the path to permanent residency, people who are inside the U.S. and on the waiting list are not stranded.
The USCIS places these individuals into the deferred action program. This allows them to be in the U.S. legally and obtain a work permit if they meet the proper requirements.
Unfortunately, that time during which a person remains on deferred action while waiting for his or her U visa does not count as the cumulative time needed to apply for permanent residence.
This means that only from the moment you receive the U visa does the accumulation of time towards the 3 years required to apply for a green card begin to count.