The U.S. Congress created U non-immigrant status (the U visa) in October 2000 to help victims of certain crimes who have experienced extreme mental or physical abuse and were helpful to law enforcement of government in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The U visa bestows clear benefits, when granted: The applicant—and any qualifying family members included as the applicant’s derivatives—can work and reside in the United States lawfully for four years; but after having U visa status for three years, the Applicant can apply to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
The only downside? The wait. When Congress created the U visa, it set an annual cap of 10,000 visas that may be granted to principal applicants each year. Once it has doled out the first 10,000 visas each year, the remaining applicants are placed on a waiting list. So, just how long do applicant’s have to wait until there are granted a U visa, you ask? The most recent estimate from USCIS indicates total processing times of between 50 – 50.5 months, or just over four years!
There are two important things to keep in mind while waiting for your U visa:
- First, it is normal to go long periods without receiving any notice from USCIS updating you on your case. This is normal practice. For the most part, after USCIS sends the applicant initial notices in the month after filing the U visa application, the applicant will not receive any more communication from USCIS for two or three years.
- Second, keep your attorney informed of any plans to change marital status, or any recent contact with law enforcement. A lot can happen in a person’s life over the course of four years. Applicants may get married, divorced, or have children. These changes can all impact the U visa application. It’s important to discuss any changes with that may occur in your life with at attorney while the U visa is pending.
For an obvious example, if a wife included her husband as her derivative on her U visa application and they divorce while it’s pending, that husband is no longer eligible to receive a U visa.Or, if the applicant is under the age of 21 and included their parents, the applicant should proceed with caution before marrying, as the marriage would mean the parents could no longer qualify for a U visa, either. Always consult with an attorney before making any legal changes that would alter that family structure.
While the U visa is pending, an applicant could also be arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime. Depending on the resolution of the matter, the applicant may need to update their U visa application.If the new contact with law enforcement made the applicant trigger a ground of inadmissibility, then the applicant may also need to get a new updated waiver of inadmissibility, too.
In sum, having a U visa application pending is a true exercise in patience. Don’t fret if you haven’t received notice from USCIS in a while. Make sure to consult an attorney before going forward with a divorce or a marriage. Contact us for a free consultation to see if you may qualify for a U visa, or if you have a U visa pending and need to discuss any recent criminal contact or possible changes in marital status.
To discuss the specifics of your case:
Call us at 678.324-8511;
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or
Click here to schedule a consultation.
In what appeared to be a win for civil rights the Supreme Court defined what “notices to appear” in immigration court as defective if they did not provide a (1) date, (2) time, and (3) location for an immigrant to appear in court. The Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) own paperwork requires this information! It is only common sense that a person can’t honor the requirement to show up without knowing when and where.
The ruling issued in June 2018 affects immigrants’ applications for cancellation of removal proceedings. The cancellation of removal application must show that the person has resided in the U.S. for a defined amount of time. ICE argued that, even if it is defective, the notice to appear stopped the immigrant’s accrual of time toward their minimum stay. In other words, it eliminated their ability to show they met the burden for length of stay.
The Board of Immigration Appeals issued a new rule in September 2018 skirting the Supreme Court decision. If ICE issues a notice later that includes the date, time and place that counts as a correction to the original notice to appear. According to the BIA, the date of the original notice becomes valid and thus stopped the accumulation of time on that earlier date.
If the BIA rule is allowed to stand then immigrants will lose some of their required residency time despite the fact they have been physically present. A skilled immigration attorney can assist with this tricky, yet unfair practice. Losing some of their required residency time despite the fact they have been physically present can also mean that immigrants and their attorneys may not be able to determine whether the applicant met the minimum physical presence requirement for cancellation of removal.
Essentially the BIA is saying it it does not have to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, or at least the spirit of it.
Experienced immigration attorneys provide your best chance to fight defective notices to appear and obtain a cancellation of removal. We have the knowledge to help you with your individual situation. Click here or call us at (678) 324-8511 for an evaluation of how we can help you!