July 2012

Client Story

From U-Visa to Permanent Residency

Juan, Maria, and Dolores are three typical Just Neighbors U-Visa clients. Three years ago, each of them was the victim of a violent crime. With the help of Just Neighbors they applied for, and were granted, a U-Visa for themselves and their families, granting them legal status in the U.S. Now that they have held their U-Visa status for three years, Just Neighbors has the pleasure of assisting them with their applications for permanent residency (green cards).

In working with clients like Juan, Maria, and Dolores after three years, it is amazing to see the effect the U-Visa has had on their lives. Their self-esteem has elevated and their circumstances have transformed since they have been able to work, obtain driver’s licenses, and live with the security of legal status in this country. It inspires us to see how they have overcome the trauma of victimhood as well as the emotional and financial hardships that they faced three years ago due to crime or domestic violence.

In their residency applications, clients write about how, because of the U-Visa, they were able to get a job to support their families. Many talk about the joy of being reunited with their families and about how grateful they are to live in a country where they feel safe and where they are protected by the laws and law enforcement.

Juan writes, “Since they gave me the U-Visa, it has changed our lives. I have my children here, this has been a great blessing for us. My children are part of a musical group that plays for all of the members of the church, they play on a team at school. The six of us are so happy together, including the dog who we love a lot.”

Maria writes, “Once I received the news that my [U-Visa] application was accepted, I was extremely thankful and didn’t hesitate to find a job. I got a job in the summer and my first paycheck went to my mother. I am working so I can save up for college.”

Dolores writes, “My life is better in this country due to the opportunities that I have been given and the security that I feel to stay here, thanks to God I was able to reunite with my kids that I had left in my country.”

Along with these clients, Just Neighbors looks forward to hearing news of their green card approvals and their ability to eventually get their citizenship.

Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer

We are proud to name Kaitlyn Arndt our volunteer of the month for July. Kaitlyn, who is interning with us this summer four days a week, plans to graduate from the University of New Mexico in December with a BA in Political Science and Spanish. In addition to conducting dozens of phone intakes, interpreting for clients, and assisting with office projects, Kaitlyn has also helped Just Neighbors at off-site events. For example, she represented Just Neighbors at the Columbia Pike Blues Festival and attended a United Way seminar. Thank you Kaitlyn!

NAP Program

Just Neighbors is pleased to announce that we are once again an approved Neighborhood Assistance Program for the Commonwealth of Virginia. What does this mean? Any Virginia resident who donates $500 or more to Just Neighbors between now and December 31st will receive a tax credit from the state of 65%! So, for example, a donation of $1,000 to Just Neighbors will only cost you $350, as you will receive a credit of $650 toward your 2012 state tax return. This credit is in addition to standard federal deductions.

We hope you will consider taking advantage of this program, which we realize seems too good to be true. Eligible donations CANNOT be made through United Way or on-line (since a third-party vendor is involved), and must be sent via check to our address below. There is not an unlimited amount of credits, and we will issue them first come, first served. For more information, visit Virginia’s Department of Social Services website here or the Just Neighbors website here.

Postcards!

Just Neighbors is selling two types of postcards (below), which include original artwork on the front and information about Just Neighbors on the back. The art has been donated by Mexican artist Alejandro Aranda (www.alejandroaranda.com), enabling Just Neighbors to receive 100% of the proceeds. For more information on how to purchase the postcards ($1 each or 4 for $3), contact our Office Manager, Stephanie Barnes at 703 979-1240. Stephanie is Aranda’s daughter-in-law.

Just Neighbors Primary Signature-Reverse-01

The mission of Just Neighbors is to provide immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in Virginia, especially those who are most vulnerable. We also seek to foster enriching experiences that enhance awareness and mutual understanding among our clients, volunteers, staff and community.

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