Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

INS Law Keeps Families United.

Byline: Guillermo Contreras Journal Staff Writer

* Undocumented immigrants don't have to return to Mexico to apply for U.S. visas

Jose Manuel and Kathleen Salgado have been married nearly a year, and the young Santa Fe couple might have gotten their best Christmas present yet.

The two faced the prospect of being separated for at least eight months in order for Jose, who is from Mexico, to obtain an immigrant visa.

But on Dec. 21, President Clinton signed into law an immigration package called the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act, or the LIFE Act meant to unite families.

Jose is among the thousands of undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico and throughout the country who could be aided by the new law.

He had been living in the United States illegally for three years when he married Kathleen last January, which makes him eligible for an immigrant visa.

However, when Jose, 24, filed for the visa in February, he was told that he was required to go to an American consulate in Mexico for a visa appointment.

The law also states that immigrants who had been in the United States for more than six months in undocumented status face a bar of up to 10 years before being allowed to return. …

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