Until now, different police departments and district attorney offices had different policies on when and under what circumstances they would certify U visa cases. In Kern county, Sheriff Donny Youngblood admitted he had only signed 2% of U visa certifications and only in cases where they needed the witness to testify in court.
The U visa program was created in 2000 to encourage undocumented victims of crime to cooperate with law enforcement in the capture and prosecution of criminals. If an alien is the victim of a serious crime and helps law enforcement investigate the perpetrators, she is eligible for a U visa which can ultimately turn into lawful permanent residency. As part of the process, the alien must have a law enforcement official sign off that the alien was helpful and cooperative. Oftentimes the law enforcement certification is the most difficult part of the U visa process and different law enforcement agencies have different policies on when they would sign off. From my experience District Attorneys and judges are often helpful and willing to cooperate, but if the perpetrators were never apprehended and the case was never initiated by a prosecutor, the police or sheriff's office were the only agencies eligible to sign off. Many police departments were reluctant to sign off under such circumstances.
The new law signed by Governor Brown should standardize the U visa certification process within the law enforcement community.
If you have been the victim of a crime, even if it was many years ago, contact Nelson & Nuñez. You may be eligible to pursue a U visa so you can live and work in the United States legally.