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Long Waits Plague U Visa Program

Fifteen years ago, Congress enacted the U Visa program, which permits undocumented immigrants who are the victims of serious crimes to obtain legal status if they cooperate with the related criminal investigation. Under the U Visa program, victims are granted legal status to remain in the U.S., and, after a three-year period, are eligible to apply for permanent residence. Almost half of the individuals who apply for U Visas are women who were victims of domestic violence. While law enforcement authorities and immigrant advocates pushed for the U Visa program as an incentive for immigrants to report serious crimes, there now many more applicants for the program than expected, which has resulted in serious delays in the U Visa application process. When Congress enacted the U Visa program, it only authorized 10,000 U Visas per year. The most recent statistics available indicate that over 62,000 U Visa applications are currently pending. As a result, it can take applicants up to two years to even find out if they are eligible for the program, and even longer to get the actual U Visa. One of the largest benefits of the U Visa program, however, is the ability of the individual to get a work permit once immigration officials decide that he or she is eligible for the program. Not only does the work authorization allow an individual to work legally in the U.S., but it protects him or her from removal until the U Visa is issued. This is the case even if the immigrant does not receive the U Visa for a number of years. It is often the ability to work legally that enables women to finally leave their abusers. Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. are Oakland immigration attorneys, dedicated to serving immigrants charged with removal by federal immigration authorities. We know that you and your family want to remain in the U.S., and you need a strong team of deportation lawyers in order to do so. Allow us to develop a winning strategy in your immigration case and work toward avoiding deportation. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn about the different avenues of relief that are available to you.

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