New initiative provides pro bono immigration services to victims of human trafficking and domestic violence
CHICAGO, IL December 10, 2004 – LAWFUEL – First for law news – Coinciding with today’s worldwide celebration of International Human Rights Day, VISANOW is proud to introduce the Victim’s Visa Program. The new initiative will provide pro bono legal immigration counsel and application processing for certain victims who qualify under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and the Violence Against Women Act.
International Human Rights Day marks the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signing on December 10, 1948. The declaration sets a common standard for all people and nations for teaching and promoting respect for human rights and freedoms and securing their effective recognition.
Unfortunately, people are still being denied these basic human rights and freedoms. Every year an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders into forced prostitution, slavery, psychological abuse, torture and imprisonment. This doesn’t take into account the millions of people who are trafficked within their own countries. Victims in the US contribute to these numbers. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), approximately 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the US every year along with an unknown number of men.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) was enacted by the US government with the goals of preventing human trafficking overseas, protecting victims and helping them rebuild their lives and prosecuting traffickers under stiff federal penalties. The act also created the T visa, which allows trafficking victims to become temporary US residents.
If a T visa holder meets certain requirements, he or she may be eligible for permanent residence status. The TVPA allows up to 5,000 trafficking victims annually to receive this. Victims can also receive benefits and services under federal or state programs if they meet specific eligibility requirements and become certified by HHS.
The Victim’s Visa Program also aims to help victims of domestic violence. Millions of women and children are victims of domestic violence in the US every year. A variety of reasons prevent these victims from escaping their abusive situations. Immigrant victims often stay in abusive relationships because of fears of being deported, misunderstandings about the law, language barriers and cultural differences.
The Violence Against Women Act, which was passed by Congress in 1994, protects these victims by allowing spouses and children of US citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for their own lawful permanent residencies. Certain abused immigrants can file for immigration relief without the abuser’s assistance or knowledge.
“America has always been the land of opportunity. After enduring their personal hardships, victims of human trafficking and domestic violence are in desperate need for opportunities to start better lives. We wanted to use our resources, knowledge and experience to help these people establish themselves in the US and experience basic human rights and freedoms, and from this desire, the Victim’s Visa Program was created. We hope this program can make a difference, and we are more than happy to work with other organizations to establish a referral system to better reach these victims,” said Robert Meltzer, VISANOW CEO.
VISANOW streamlines the immigration process for corporations and their foreign employees and is the only immigration provider to guarantee its services. Since 1998, it has combined superior client support and innovative, patented technology to revolutionize the manner in which immigration matters are processed. By simply logging on to www.visanow.com, VISANOW clients can experience unprecedented levels of efficiency, responsiveness, legal expertise and quality service. Hundreds of clients have received significant savings in time and money by using the VISANOWâ process. In addition, the company also offers VISANOWâ ES to in-house counsel and VisaPrep to attorneys.