The migrants that were dropped off at the Vineyard airport in a political move orchestrated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022 have taken a critical step toward being able to stay in the country.

On Monday, an attorney who has been helping the Venezuelan asylum seekers said some migrants have begun receiving bona fide determinations from the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services on their applications for visas, allowing them to seek employment and protecting them in the long immigration process.

The migrants were seeking a type of visa — known as the U visa — that is set aside for victims of crimes who have cooperated with law enforcement and government officials in investigations.

The asylum seekers say they were tricked onto the flights with promises of work and housing. The DeSantis administration maintains the flight were lawfully conducted by the state legislature. 

Chappaquiddick attorney Rachel Self has been aiding the migrants through the visa process and in a statement Monday said her clients had been cooperating with the Bexar County, Tex. sheriff Javier Salazar. 

Mr. Salazar has been investigating the flights, which took migrants from Texas to the Vineyard. 

“Based on what was learned from that cooperation, Sheriff Salazar certified that they had been victims of qualifying criminal activity for a U visa and U visa petitions were filed for the victims,” Ms. Self said in the statement.

More than eight of the migrants had recieved the bona fide determination, and more were trickling in, Ms. Self later told the Gazette. 

“I expect them to be issued in all the cases as all of them were victimized in the same crime,” she said. 

The visa progress news comes after the U.S. District Court in Boston ruled that the migrants could continue to sue the charter plane company that took them to the Vineyard in September 2022. Judge Allison Burroughs ruled in March that the case against Vertol, the company granted a $1.5 million contract from Florida to conduct the flights, would proceed, though she dismissed Mr. DeSantis from the suit. 

Sheriff Salazar last year turned over a criminal investigation to the local Texas district attorney, who has not yet made a determination on whether the flights would result in any criminal charges.

“Sheriff Javier Salazar and his team have done everything they can do,” Ms. Self said. “Their full investigation was provided to the DA over eight months ago, along with recommendations for criminal charges.”

Most of the migrants who unexpectedly ended up on the Island have moved off-Island, though a handful continue to make a life here as the asylum process plays out.