The U-visa nonimmigrant status is a way for victims of certain crimes, who are otherwise undocumented or out of status, to apply for and receive non-immigrant status and temporary immigration benefits if they been the victim of a qualifying crime while in the United States. There is a list of enumerated crimes , and includes such things such as felonious assault, domestic violence, kidnapping, extortion, among others.
Many victims are quick to call an immigration lawyer after they have suffered such a crime, but often overlook one of the biggest steps in terms of obtaining a U visa, the U visa certification.
What it is
Every U visa applicant is required to obtain a U Visa certification, which is filed with form I-918 Supplement B. The certification form is signed by either a judge, law enforcement officer, or prosecutor who is involved in the investigation and prosecution of the crime committed against the applicant. The certification, through the authorized representative’s signature, is confirming not only that the applicant was the victim of one of the qualifying crimes, but that he or she was helpful, is currently helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the future in the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
Why you need it
If you believe you qualify for a U non-immigrant visa, you must demonstrate how you have helped or assisted law enforcement (police) or the prosecution (District Attorney’s office) in pursuing criminal charges against the perpetrator(s) of the crime against you.
The reality is that many immigrants, due to either a language barrier, a lack of knowledge of the workings of the criminal justice system, or fear, fail to stay in touch with the detectives and prosecutors of their case. It can be difficult to obtain certification by law enforcement/prosecution because aside from making the initial 911 emergency call and speaking to the police officer at the scene about the crime, the victim fails to respond to calls following up from the police department about the crime, or doesn’t show up to court to testify against the perpetrator(s).
Tips to help you if you’ve been the victim of a crime and believe you may qualify for a U visa:
In order to apply for a U visa when you’ve been a victim of a crime, the certification signed by the law enforcement, the prosecutor, or a judge is a requirement to move forward with the application. Knowing these small things in the short term and demonstrating your interest in pursuing the case against the perpetrator and seeking justice for yourself will go a long way to obtain the necessary certification.