You called the police to report your abuser. After years of physical and emotional abuse, you called the police because you feared he would harm your children. You were afraid to call the police, but felt that you had to in order to save them from grave bodily harm. The police arrest him. As difficult as it was to face your abuser in court, you provide testimony in the criminal case against him. He is now in jail and serving time for harming you. You have no immigration status. Now what?
The U Visa may be an option for you. You do not have to be in legal status and the immigration status of your perpetrator – the person who harmed you, is irrelevant. If your abuser was undocumented, you can still apply for a U visa . . . but only if you have an approved U visa certification first from a police department or prosecutor’s office representative in your case.
An immigrant who is the victim of a serious crime, must obtain a certification from a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, or a prosecutor, judge or other authority. Other agencies that can provide certifications include: child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor.
Only designated officials within a police station or prosecutor’s office can sign off on a U certification request. These requests can be complicated because whether the certification will be useful to you in your later filed U visa case depends on the types of crimes that the police or prosecutor is willing to sign off on as being investigated on the certification as well as how well the certification form is completed in other areas including your helpfulness and harm to you that was witnessed by the police. This is where a team of attorneys who work on U certifications and work with U Visa applicants regularly can really make the difference between obtaining your U visa or U visa certification and losing your case.
A U visa application cannot be submitted without U visa certification. It is an essential requirement of the application. Many law enforcement agencies are familiar with the U visa and have local guidance as to how applicants request a certification. Other agencies may not be familiar with the U visa process and applicants must spend significant time to advocate and work through a law enforcement bureaucracy in order to obtain the certification. This can be challenging for applicants. It is also important to note that a law enforcement agency is not required to provide a certification. So, despite an applicant’s cooperation, an agency can decline signing a certification, or do nothing at all with the request. Further, once obtained, signed Certifications are only valid for six-months preceding the filing of a U visa application. After six months, an applicant must obtain a new certification from law enforcement for the U visa application and many law enforcement agencies refuse to resign due to policy or limited resources
Our firm has helped countless men and women from across the United States obtain U Visa Certifications. We have worked with law enforcement departments and prosecutors from across the United States. We can advocate on your behalf with law enforcement to help you get your certification.