After 10 long years, a LA VIDA client finally receives her green card

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Alicia* was getting ready to have nursing school graduation pictures taken when she got a call from VPLC.  “Don’t make me cry!” she squealed with delight.  After waiting 10 long years, she’d been granted her green card, or Lawful Permanent Resident status.

Alicia and her mother came to VPLC in 2011, when she was just 12 years old and one of our first clients soon after VPLC established an immigration program for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

As an immigrant victim of sexual violence, Alicia qualified for a U visa, a nonimmigrant visa set aside for victims of certain qualifying crimes who are helpful to law enforcement or prosecutors in the investigation or prosecution of those crimes. She was also able to apply on behalf of her mother, a victim of domestic violence, as well. After obtaining U visas, Alicia and her mother then needed to file for Lawful Permanent Resident status. Because of the Trump Administration’s harsh policy of regularly denying fee waivers that used to be approved par for the course, Alicia and her mother chose to scrape up the $2,450 to pay for the “privilege” of applying for their green cards rather than risk filing a fee waiver that might be denied, thus denying their underlying green card applications.

Now that Alicia and her mother have gained Lawful Permanent Resident status in the US, they plan to visit their home country for a month to spend time with family they haven’t seen in 13 years. After that, Alicia plans to work for a year as she gets her RN-to-BSN degree. Then, she plans to go to medical school.

Alicia never had a childhood because of the horrible experiences she endured in her young life. When Alicia began applying to college, she didn’t qualify for any financial aid due to her status at the time. Sometimes, she had to stop going to school to save up money to put toward one more semester of school. Because of these difficulties, she’s worried that all of this is a dream and that her green card will be revoked. She says the process has taught her patience and perspective, and she hopes these qualities will make her a better nurse—and someday, a better doctor.

We thank the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) for funding this program through the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and hope funding will continue in the future. Immigrants like Alicia enrich our country, and VPLC will continue to work for better public policies to help immigrant victims of violence find sanctuary here.

*Name has been changed to protect the client’s identity.

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