More than 438,000 people have applied. There are as many as 1.7 million more people eligible.
Now, many are discovering that they may be eligible for special visas that may lead to a green card or permanent legal status. Estimates are that as many a quarter of all applicants may be eligible for these special visas.
One is called a U visa. Undocumented victims of serious crimes such as sexual assault may be eligible. Undocumented women and youngsters who have been abused or neglected also may be eligible.
Another is called a T visa. Undocumented victims of human trafficking may be eligible.
Reviews of applicants show that some may also be eligible for permanent status through these special visas due to family relations.
Advocates say the federal government has not done enough to inform people of these programs. However, the number of special visas granted has gone from 5,800 in 2009 to about 10,000 last year.
There is concern that these visas could lead to false claims. The government says it is carefully checking all claims. False statements can lead to criminal charges.
What is happening in America is that thousands of young people are choosing to come out of the shadows. This brings some risk. The government may learn things that could harm their families’ status.
Friends and foes of immigration reform believe that change is in the air.