In 2000, Congress, in passing the "Battered Immigrant Women's Protection Act or BIWPA, created a new classification of NON Immigrant visa, the Victim of Crime, or U, Visa. They never intended for this to be a stepping stone to permanent residence, a green card, and then US citizen.
The purpose was to allow victims of crime the ability to assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the offender. The visa would be valid for a maximum period of four years, the alien would be authorized to be employed during that time, would be able to travel in and out of the US, and would be able to receive public assistance or taxpayer funded benefits. Furthermore, the victim's family could also deprive the same benefit of a U Visa.
In an effort to ensure that this would not become a "back door" into the US or to see a uptick in the amount of fabricated and false allegations of crimes in order to get status in the US, Congress put a numerical limitation as to the number of visas that could be issued each fiscal year of 10,000 visas for the actual victims and no limitation to the number of family derivative visas being issued.
For the first 9 years of this visa's existence, from 2000-2009, we never saw the number of visa applications even coming close to the cap. In 2009 for example, there were just over 6,000 U Visas issued. However, in 2010, during the Obama Administration, we began to see the number of U Visa application steadily increase and exceed the 10,000 cap. In 2010 there were just over 10,000 U Visa Applications filed. By the end of FY 2016 there were over 35,000 U Visa applications filed in that year alone, 3.5 times the limit set by Congress.
What USCIS did, is, instead of returning the applications for applicants that exceeded the 10,000 cap instructing them to reapply in the next fiscal year, they began to stockpile and backlog these applications creating a waiting list, the same type of waiting list, immigrant visa applicants have to wait on. By the end of FY 2016, the backlog/waiting list for U Visa Applications for the principal alien, not counting family members was in excess of 86,000 and by the end of the third quarter of FY 2017, the number had ballooned to over 103,000.
The reason why this happened was that despite Congress' intent to have this visa be a NON Immigrant visa, meaning no green card, no path to citizenship, USCIS established rules that allowed for a U Visa holder, after living here as a U Visa holder for three years, to convert their visa to that of an immigrant visa and get a green card even though it was never Congress' intent for that to happen.
As a result, at the end of third quarter of FY 2017, the total number of pending and backlogged U Visa applications, TO INCLUDE THE FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE "VICTIMS", skyrocketed to 177,340.
The question that must be asked and answered is: "When will all this end?" Answer: "Never", if the open border advocates and politicians on both sides of the aisle that derive a political benefit for helping "the huddled masses to breath free", have their way.
More on this vexing topic to follow in the weeks and months to come.