Have you or your family member been the victim of a serious or violent crime? Did you report that crime to the police? If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you may qualify for a U Visa. The U Visa was created by Congress specifically to help undocumented immigrants who are the victims of certain serious crimes. An individual qualifies for a U Visa if he or she was the victim of a qualified crime, assisted law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime, and suffered substantial harm as a result of the crime. Some are the crimes that would qualify for a U Visa include but are not limited to: domestic battery, armed robbery, murder, kidnapping, or stalking.
I have filed hundreds of U Visas in my career as an immigration attorney, and yet, the largest obstacle in these cases remains the same – obtaining a signed I-918B certification form from law enforcement. The certification form is signed by law enforcement to verify that our client was a victim of a qualifying crime and cooperated with law enforcement. In years past, our office would frequently have to jump through some hurdles in order to obtain this signed form. Without the signed form, our clients could not continue their process to apply for the U Visa.
Thankfully, the Illinois legislature recently enacted the VOICES Act, a law that streamlines the certification process for all law enforcement agencies in Illinois. Prior to this law, law enforcement agencies in Illinois had no uniform standard to follow when responding to certification requests for U Visas. Many U Visa requests would receive blanket denials for reasons that were not within the law, and undermined the very purpose of the U Visa. The VOICES Act has empowered survivors of violence and other crimes to continue reporting those crimes to law enforcement, and continue to find protection under the U Visa laws. As the name of the law suggests, victims of crimes finally have a “voice” in Illinois to obtain immigration status, who otherwise may not be eligible for any other forms of relief.
The attorneys at Kriezelman, Burton and Associates are prepared to zealously advocate for you and your family. We have direct experience with several police departments and prosecutors’ offices in the Chicagoland area and can help you obtain a U Visa. Please call us at 312-332-2550 if you are interested in learning more.
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