U Visas – Getting more popular in 2011….

So what is a U visa? The U visa is designed for noncitizen crime victims who (1) have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse from criminal activity; (2) have information regarding the criminal activity; (3) assist government officials in the investigation or prosecution of such criminal activity; and (4) the criminal activity violated US law or occurred in the United States (including Indian country and military installations) or the territories and possessions of the United States.

The U-visa program got off to a sluggish start, with advocates complaining that immigration officials were slow to approve applications. It grew quickly, however, with the help of outreach efforts, including local visits by officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

But with increasing awareness has come increasing demand. In the three years that the program has been in place, more than 30,000 applications have been filed and more than 25,600 have been approved. Soon after a visit to Los Angeles this month to promote the program, immigration officials announced that all 10,000 available U-visas had been issued for the fiscal year, which ends Friday.

Since last year, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Reps. George Miller (D-Martinez) and Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) have pushed the Power Act, which would expand U-visas to include victims of labor exploitation and increase the number of such visas to 30,000 annually. But the legislation has gained little traction in Congress. Others hope an increase will be included in separate legislation to benefit crime victims.

Proponents of immigration restriction, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies, said visas for crime victims should be further limited to the most extreme cases. Email us for more info about this visa.

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