- Dec 26, 2021
U Visa Immigration Relief for Victims of Certain Crimes
December 02, 2021
The U visa can help certain crime victims feel safer reporting crimes, so that they may be more willing to work with Law Enforcement, even if they do not have lawful immigration status.
If approved, the U visa provides the victim with:
• Temporary immigration status including work authorization;
• Temporary immigration status for qualifying family members of the victim; and
• The possibility of lawful permanent resident status.
U VISA ELIGIBILITY: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), decide if a person is eligible for a U visa.
THE ROLE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT:
Law enforcement provides information so that USCIS can determine if the person:
• is a victim of a qualifying crime or criminal activity;
• has information about the crime or criminal activity; and
• is, was, or is likely to be helpful in the detection or investigation of the qualifying crime or criminal activity, or the prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of the perpetrator of the qualifying crime or criminal activity.
To qualify for a U visa, a victim must submit a signed certification (known as USCIS Form 1-918, Supplement B, U Non-immigrant Status Certification) from a law enforcement official. This certification is an evidence in support of the petition to USCIS for U non-immigrant status. This certification is to be completed and signed by Law Enforcement. The certification gives USCIS basic information about the criminal activity perpetrated against the victim and the victim's willingness to assist in the detection, investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing.
QUALIFYING CRIME OR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY?: The following lists the criminal activities that are considered "qualifying criminal activities" for purposes of U visa eligibility. These are general categories of crimes and it is important to note that any similar criminal activities that violate Federal, state, or local laws may also be considered "qualifying criminal activities" for purposes of U visa eligibility. • Being Held Hostage • Blackmail • Domestic Violence • Extortion • Felonious Assault • Female Genital Mutilation • Abduction • Abusive Sexual Contact • Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting • Incest • Involuntary Servitude • Kidnapping • Manslaughter • Murder • Obstruction of Justice • Peonage • Perjury • Prostitution • Rape • Sexual Assault • Sexual Exploitation • Slave Trade • False Imprisonment • Stalking • Torture • Trafficking • Witness Tampering • Unlawful Criminal Restraint.
Qualifying crimes include any similar activity where the nature and elements of the crime are substantially similar to one of the crimes listed. Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the crimes listed above may also count as a "qualifying criminal activity."
LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES ELIGIBLE TO CERTIFY: The following law enforcement authorities are eligible to complete the USCIS Form 1-918, Supplement B, U Non-immigrant Status Certification:
• Any Federal, state, or local law enforcement authority (including prosecutors and judges) that has responsibility for the detection, investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of qualifying criminal activity.
• If more than one qualifying law enforcement authority is involved in the case, such as a Federal agency and a local agency, any one of them may complete the certification. The law enforcement authority that completes and signs the certification will be considered the "certifying agency" and, therefore, the point of contact for USCIS should any questions about the certification arise.
• Law enforcement authorities with criminal investigative jurisdiction in their respective areas of expertise, including but not limited to child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor may also complete the certification.
• Law enforcement may sign a certification regardless of how the case turns out. A conviction, prosecution, or arrest is not necessary for a victim to be eligible for relief. • The victim may be eligible for a U visa even if the perpetrator is acquitted or convicted of a different crime.
• Law enforcement may also withdraw the certification if the victim stops cooperating with the investigation or prosecution.
WHO CAN SIGN A CERTIFICATION?
• The head of the certifying agency.
• Any person in a supervisory role who is specifically designated by the head of the agency to sign.
• A Federal, state, or local judge.
THE VICTIM DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY RECEIVE A U VISA BECAUSE A CERTIFICATION HAS BEEN SIGNED:
The certification by itself does not grant any immigration benefit. USCIS reviews all of the evidence submitted along with the certification to determine whether a victim is eligible for a U visa. USCIS also conducts a thorough background check of each U visa petitioner and each included family member.
For any questions or guidance on U Visa, visit our website at www.kenjaylaw.com or call our office at 224.800.1585. Follow us on Facebook at kenjaylaw