June 14, 2021
ASISTA applauds USCIS’s policy alert announcing work authorization for U visa petitioners who present a bona fide case. This policy will help alleviate the myriad barriers that victims and their families face as a result of the significant processing delays in the U visa program. Currently there are nearly 270,000 individuals with pending U visa matters, and the processing times just to place these cases on the waitlist is nearly 5 years.
These long waits for the adjudication of their cases can be devastating to U visa petitioners who face dire personal and economic hardship, often placing them at risk of deportation or other abusive and exploitative situations as they struggle to survive. This new USCIS policy will provide many U visa petitioners a path to timely work authorization and deferred action status, which will help alleviate these risks. We appreciate USCIS’s efforts to take action to alleviate the barriers these delays have caused and to increase the effectiveness of the remedies Congress created for immigrant survivors of violence.
ASISTA’s Executive Director Kirsten Rambo states, “We are extremely encouraged by this news from USCIS today. This policy is a very promising step forward to ensure that immigrant survivors of violence can now have a much clearer path to safety and stability, as Congress originally intended. We are also deeply grateful to our partners in advocacy who have worked alongside us on this issue by conducting research, engaging in administrative and legislative advocacy, and pursuing federal litigation.”
ASISTA looks forward to working with USCIS and our partners to identify and understand fully the practical implications of this policy for all survivors, from the impact on the U visa waitlist to understanding how discretionary determinations will be made related to arrests. As always, we remain committed to ensuring that safety and justice for all immigrant survivors is centered in these discussions and to updating the field with the latest developments. Read ASISTA’s policy alert here. We will continue to share additional resources about this and other policy matters that impact immigrant survivors of violence.