Currently, there are over 140,000 people waiting to obtain their U-Visa. The US Government can only give out 10,000 of these visas per year. This means that for someone filing a petition today, they can expect to wait between 12-14 years for a final decision on their U-Visa.
In the U-Visa Process, and application is filed with USCIS. They will issue a receipt notice and a letter telling the applicant that they will need to have their fingerprints taken. Once fingerprints are taken, the immigrant will wait. According to the numbers published on the USCIS website, someone may have to wait more than 4 years in order to obtain even a PRELIMINARY DECISION on their case. This is also referred to as a wait-list decision.
When making a wait-list decision, the government will review the evidence and the petition and decide if this appears to be a valid case that should merit a visa. Since visas for the next number of years are not available to the new applicant, the government will issue them a WORK PERMIT and DEFERRED ACTION STATUS. This means that the applicant will be spared from deportation, problems with immigration and can then apply for a SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, DRIVER’S LICENSE and begin to live a normal life with no fear of being arrested for not having papers.
The wait-list decision was never intentioned to last 4 years or longer. In fact, approximately 7 years ago, wait-list decisions were taking less than 12 months. So the question now is, “What Can Be Done?”
Because wait-times have been taking so long, a select and elite group of immigration attorneys are beginning to file federal lawsuits demanding that the government issue the wait-list decision promptly. This is not something that every immigration attorney is doing, and is not something that every immigration attorney is eligible to do. In order to file a federal lawsuit, an attorney must be licensed to practice law in the FEDERAL COURT system. The system of US Federal Courts has its own set of rules, procedures and laws to follow.
There is a Federal Law know as the Administrative Procedure Act. It is found in the US Code at 5 USC §551. This law places certain requirements on the various administrative agencies in the federal government, including the departments that handle immigration matters such as USCIS, the Immigration Court, the Department of Labor, the US Department of State and more. Inside the Administrative Procedure Act, there is a section that requires that the agencies must not unreasonably delay matters before it. In summary, attorneys are able to sue the government for unreasonably delaying matters before it, including certain immigration cases.
For example, there are many published cases where USCIS (aka Immigration) failed to issue a decision on a citizenship application and placed the case in a never-ending status of “Administrative Processing.” The government had all the information they needed but for some reason (many times political reasons) did not want to make a final finding, leaving the applicant in a state of legal limbo. When the federal lawsuit is brought in the Federal Courts, the prosecutor and the government have to explain why the delay is NOT unreasonable, or issue a decision or in some cases like Citizenship, the judge may order the government to issue the decision.
There have also been many cases where a wait-list decision has not been made, and by filing a lawsuit they are obligated the make the decision that can result in the WORK PERMIT and DEFERRED ACTION STATUS for the immigrant, while they continue to wait for final U-Visa approval.
Our firm is one of the firms that is filing and winning these cases. If you have been waiting more than 12 months for the preliminary decision (wait-list decision) on your U-Visa case, now is a good time to prepare for and consider filing a federal lawsuit so you can move forward with your life while your case continues.
To mark an appointment with the attorney, you can call our office at (616) 396-9418
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