Immigration officials have been noticing a large increase in the amount of U visa applications all across the United States. California’s Oakland Police Department had processed no less than 502 applications last year, which is a massive jump from those processed back in 2007, which numbered just three, according to a recent news article from NCB Bay Area.
The U visa, also known as the U non-immigrant status, was created 12 years ago back in 2000 under the banner of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The U visa was designed for non-citizens who become victims of crime and who assist law enforcement to prosecute the case. The U visa is able to help police to strengthen their attempts to solve cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and a number of other crimes, USCIS says.
If the visa is awarded, the individual will then also receive a work permit and is also able to apply to become a permanent resident after a time period of four years. Although advocates for immigrant rights are very happy with the program, officials say that it continues to be difficult to break down the barriers with individuals who are reluctant to seek help after becoming victims of a crime.
“We offer U visas as a way to assure them that they don’t have to have any fear of us trying to get them deported out of the country,” says Oakland Police Captain Johnny Davis. “We want to help them solve their crimes.”