New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

U Visa Certification In NYC

Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

A U visa is a non-immigrant status that can be bestowed on a victim of crime who cooperates with the law enforcement in its investigation. A U visa provides a path for the permanent residency, and an authorization to work in the United States. One does not need to be in a legal status to apply for a U visa, and does not need to be lawfully admitted into the United States to be able to submit an application (it means that even if a person “crossed the border”, he/she can get benefits of a U status).

What one does need, however, is a U visa certification: a form that is signed by a court, police or a prosecutor’s office representative certifying that the beneficiary of the form has been helpful and cooperative in investigation of the crime and persecution of the offender. An applicant has to demonstrate that he/she became a victim of one of the enumerated criminal acts or similar criminal activity. Not every criminal act would be sufficient for the victim to qualify for a U visa.

Unfortunately, it has been very difficult to obtain a U visa certification for qualifying applicants: the police officers have been reluctant to sign “Federal papers,” and many of the judges and prosecutors are simply not approachable. A the same time, a U or T visa certification may protect and help victims of crimes without statute of limitations requirements, and even if the crime has not been reported previously. It means that many are missing on their lawful opportunities to benefit from the United States laws.

That is why in New York City, the New York City Commission on Human Rights launched an initiative on issuing U and T visa certifications. The NYCCHR has a wide range of powers to investigate discrimination and retaliation in housing and workplace. Often, in the course of such an investigation, the Commission uncovers criminal acts such as extortion, sexual assault, domestic violence, etc.

It is expected that the process of U visa certification through the Commission will be easier and faster, and will help hundreds to utilize lawful protections.

If you have questions regarding U visa certification, please contact our office at 917-885-2261.

22 February 2016
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