We got some great news last week in the world of T (trafficking) and U (victims of crime) visas!

I love it when clients tell me they’ve gotten married – they smile, they glow and life is good. However, if those clients had pending T or U visas and wanted to add their new spouse to their immigration case, I had to give them bad news.  Those smiles turned to frowns and frustration.

Under old policy, if a T or U visa applicant got married after filing the I-914 or I-918, the new spouse (called an “after-acquired spouse”) couldn’t benefit from the pending case for years – if ever. For U visa applicants, it was possible to file for, and protect, the after-acquired spouse when they applied for their green cards. Unfortunately, this could be 10-15 years later…and that entire time, the after-acquired spouse has no lawful status and no ability to work. For T visa applicants, the options were even more limited.

Well…that’s changed!

Effective immediately, USCIS no longer requires that the marriage must have occurred at the time of filing the I-914 or I-918 in order to protect the after-acquired spouse. If someone gets married after the T or U visa application is filed, they can file an I-914A or I-918A to include the new spouse on the application. This saves years of hardship and uncertainty and is such welcome news! With I-914s taking one year and I-918s taking over five years for a decision, this opens opportunity to a large group of people. However, this only applies in PENDING cases – for now. We’re still waiting on guidance from USCIS on how they’ll handle after-acquired spouses on approved T or U cases.

If you have a pending T or U case and got married after filing, please talk with an experienced attorney to see how you can include your after-acquired spouse in your application!

-Tracie