It’s hard to believe, but there is a cap on the number of people who can come into the United States as refugees from criminal violence. Usually, people come to the U.S. on U visas, which are set aside for those who are victims of crimes such as abduction, murder, kidnapping, stalking, torture and others.

The United States cannot take everyone who applies, and there is a limit that applies to U visas each year. The total number allowed to be granted yearly is 10,000. However, that number only applies to the first member of up to 10,000 families. For example, if you are the mother of three children, you only count as one out of 10,000, and your children do not count toward the U-visa limit.

What happens if the U-visa limit is already met for the year?

If the U-visa limit is already met, then you will be placed on a waiting list. This waiting list is called on one at a time as people are denied U visas (based on the first 10,000 applicants). Therefore, even if you are applicant 10,045, you may still have an opportunity to get a U visa, it may just take more time.

While you wait to have your petition heard, you will have deferred action or parole granted. You will also be able to ask for a work authorization while you wait for an official right to stay through a U visa.

When new U visas are available, the petitioners on the waiting list are served on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are already on a waiting list, you don’t have to do anything extra to make sure you are still in line for your visa. You’ll be contacted once your petition is being considered.

What can you do to have the best chance of having a U visa granted?

This is one situation in which you’ll want to work closely with your immigration attorney. With the right support and information, it’s possible to put together a strong petition with plenty of evidence and support for your request.

The U.S. government wants to be positive that you’re applying for the right kind of visa and will grant the U visa to you if there is enough evidence of the trouble that you’ve faced in your life. Your attorney will help you prepare the documents in English, so they’re easy to understand.