In 2009, Francis Castillo* spent another lonely Christmas without his wife and three children. He was working in the U.S., hoping to make a better life for his family. Castillo last saw his children before he immigrated to the US in 1998. His son was one year old, and his twin daughters were newborns. Now they are all teenagers. Castillo only gets to talk with his family on the phone once or twice a month, and he works hard to support them by sending remittances to his native El Salvador.
Castillo cleans both days and nights, working about 60 hours per week. At 7 A.M. on Christmas Eve, Castillo was waiting for a bus to work. Suddenly, an unknown assailant brutally robbed and assaulted him. An ambulance rushed Castillo to Howard Hospital, where he had several maxillofacial surgeries. Doctors had to insert a plate into his face to maintain its shape.
Castillo cooperated with the police throughout the investigation. “They treated me well,” Castillo said. “I still have the phone number of the head officer.” A judge advised Castillo that because he cooperated with the police, he could qualify for a U Visa. U Visas allow immigrants who are victims of violent crimes and cooperate with police to stay in the U.S. for up to four years. Immigrants with U Visas can sponsor family members to come to the U.S. After holding a U Visa for three years, immigrants may apply for a green card that will allow them permanent residency.
Castillo had his first consultation at CARECEN in the spring of 2010. He decided to work with CARECEN’s attorneys, who helped him apply for a U visa. Castillo’s U visa was approved in the fall of 2010. After waiting the required three years, Castillo plans to apply for permanent residency.
He is also in the process of bringing his family to the U.S. With the help of CARECEN’s legal staff, Castillo’s wife and two of his children had their U.S. visa applications approved this June. Now Castillo is waiting for his second daughter to have her visa approved. Once her visa is approved, Castillo will be reunited with his family after 13 years.
*The client’s name was changed to protect his privacy.