The most common types of visas individuals who want to permanently reside in the United States seek are either Family-Based or Employment-Based. While these are popular routes pursued by many, they are not the only routes. Many other visas are available to those who meet certain criteria.
A visa that many may not be aware of is the U-1 visa. These visas, which have been available to a set amount of people each year since 2008, are designed specifically for individuals who are victims of certain crimes. In exchange for the visa, the victims must be willing to assist law enforcement in prosecuting the crimes. In addition, they must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse.
Qualifying crimes that individuals may have been victims of include:
- Human trafficking
- Sexual assault
- Domestic violence
Family members of victims may receive visas under this program as well.
As is the case in many other visa programs, there are a limited number of visas available each year. The annual statutory cap is 10,000. Since 2008, more than 89,600 individuals have obtained U visas. Though the cap for fiscal year 2014 has been met, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is planning to review the applications it received from individuals after the cap was reached. Those who are eligible we be placed on a waiting list. The first day of fiscal year 2015 is Oct. 1, 2014.
Many individuals dream of residing the U.S. permanently, possibly in South Florida. Determining how to make that dream a reality can be overwhelming. Because the immigration system is so complex, there may be visas available that individuals are not even aware of. Accordingly, it may be in the best interest of all seeking to live here, including those who are informed they are on the waiting list, to consult with an immigration lawyer.
Source: Government Security News, “USCIS approves 10,000 ‘U visas’ for fifth straight year,” Jacob Goodwin, Dec. 12, 2013