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Victim of crime struggles to secure U visa

People come to the U.S. every day looking for work, to connect with family or to make a better life for themselves. However, some of these people fall victim to crimes and end up facing some serious penalties, including deportation.

For example, one woman has been fighting to stay in the U.S. after she came here under false pretenses. According to reports, she paid a significant amount to come to the country from Jamaica for a job as a housekeeper in Florida through a cleaning company. She didn't received the job she was promised and now she is facing deportation.

The woman ended up working for very little money in jobs described as "sporadic cleaning shifts." She lived with numerous other people in dilapidated housing and took in a very small amount of money, as huge fees from the cleaning company were regularly taken from her paychecks. Her experience was compared to indentured servitude.

Like many other people in similar situations, the woman applied for a U visa. These are visas given to people who are victims of a crime in the U.S. Unfortunately, her application was denied.

The denial was apparently based on a lack of evidence showing that she "suffered mentally, physically and socially" as a direct result of her experience. Officials stated that while they believed everything she had endured because of the cleaning company's actions, they were not convinced she suffered substantial damage because of it.

Sadly, this is not uncommon; people who seem clearly eligible for a U visa and support in light of being victimized are finding their applications for such relief denied. The woman in this case says she will continue to fight to protect herself and others in her situation in the hopes that it will prompt change in the U visa program.

If you or a loved one is in a situation like this one, it can be crucial that you work with an attorney to pursue the appropriate visa. Without legal guidance and support, it can be overwhelmingly frustrating and difficult to navigate the system in an effort to secure the desired outcome.

Source: The Nation, "She Came to the US, Was Forced Into Indentured Servitude, and Now Faces Deportation," Michelle Chen, Oct. 21, 2015

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