U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agents held press conferences in Los Angeles and San Francisco recently, saying applications for T- and U-Visas have risen significantly this year thanks to training sessions USCIS has held with police departments.
The immigration agents were in California on a nationwide tour to educate law enforcement officers about T- and U-Visas.
Human trafficking victims are eligible for T-Visas, and victims of other crimes can apply for U-Visas, which allow them to remain in the country and take jobs, but applicants must obtain police documentation confirming that the crime occurred and the victim was cooperative with the investigation. Law enforcement officers who are confused about what the visas are sometimes do not provide this documentation, Fox News Latino reports.
USCIS figures indicate 723 T-1 Visa applications had been received and 368 had been approved as of June 2011. In 2010, the agency received 574 applications and approved 447. For U-Visas, 11,723 applications had been received as of June 2011 and 8,734 had been approved. Last year, 10,742 applications were received and 10,073 were approved.
Victims’ families can also apply for these special visas, and family member applications for 2011 are outpacing 2010.
A Nashville-area woman recently applied for a U-Visa after law enforcement officers kept her shackled to a hospital bed while she was in labor. A court awarded her $200,000 in damages.