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Adding Insult to Injury: U Visa 918B Requirement Must be Eliminated as Many Victims Denied Certification

Form 918 Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification, is a necessary requirement and, I say, prerequisite to the U Visa application process. A victim of a crime must first obtain this certification from an authorized agency. Without it a U Visa application will be denied. According to the statue and also the Department of Homeland Security U Visa Law enforcement Certification guide certain agencies may sign a Form 918B certifying that a victim of a crime was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the prosecution of a crime. An authorized agent would be, according to the statute and DHS guide, a Federal or State law enforcement agency, Judge, or prosecutor may sign the form.

Form 918B is the further insult to injury as many victims are not successful in obtaining a certification that they were helpful, are being helpful, or are likely to be helpful. Across the nation more law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, and Judges are being instructed internally not to sign 918B’s in certain cases or at all. A marginalized victim is left with no option of seeking this available remedy despite having cooperated to the extent they could. Even in grave cases of armed robber, assault with a deadly weapon, or sex related offenses, some local police departments are establishing policies to refuse to sign Form 918B’s where the victim is NO LONGER NEEDED – certainly a slap to the face for a person who’s life been altered by a heinous crime and who has often been victimized in the process of collaborating with law enforcement or the judicial system.

In light of the spirit and legislative intent of the U Visa – which is to promote collaboration between immigrant victims and law enforcement or the judicial system – DHS has issued trainings for authorized agents to help create understanding of Form 918B. Despite these efforts, many jurisdictions continue to refuse to sign. In North Carolina, for example, the Judicial Standards Committee issued an opinion in August 2014 finding that State Judges should NOT sign Form 918B period.

When the U Visa became an available remedy via the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 it was hoped that immigrant communities would cooperate with law enforcement and show up to court to confront their perpetrators without fear – and many have. However, by requiring a certification that is not possible to obtain by many victims because they are no longer needed for prosecution or because the very agents noted in the Statute are refusing to sign – the U Visa can rise to its promise and expectation. DHS must consider eliminating this requirement – to prevent further insult to the already injured, scared, traumatized victims of crimes.

Attorney Yesenia Polanco represents clients in all types of immigration proceedings from Fayad Law, P.C.'s North Carolina office. Contact the firm to learn how the team can help with your immigration matter.

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