Welcome To America: An Immigrant’s Story: Immigrant Shooting survivor: U-Visa Process, Duration and Cost QUESTION 1 Mark: Let’s jump right…
Welcome To America: An Immigrant’s Story: Immigrant Shooting survivor: U-Visa Solutions and what you should do
Welcome To America: An Immigrant’s Story: Immigrant Shooting survivor: U-Visa Process, U-Visa Solutions and what you should do
Mark: Andres, last week you teased us with some possible ways victims of crime might be able to get legal status in the US. Now, we want you to give us the goods and don’t leave us hanging.
What are the options available to victims of crime?
Andres: Okay, so U Visa, I said before it was created specifically to help law enforcement. So a victim of a violent crime that reports the incident to the police and is helpful to the police will get legal status a U Visa for him and his or her dependents. We’ll talk about who for shortly. Right now, let’s talk about the requirements. There are six requirements, we control five of them, we don’t control the six and I’ll explain what that means. We add under smackAh law divide a U Visa into three components. The first is the investigation, where we order all police documents, medical documents, court documents, that’s associated with the incident. And we look for the five things victim of a violent crime. There are 23 qualifying crimes, shooting, assault, kidnapping, sex abuse, domestic violence are the most common. Robbery alone is not enough. Here we’re talking about mass shootings. So that qualifies. But what happens if someone comes into your house and steals everything? Well, if you’re not home, doesn’t qualify. What happens if they even if they have a gun, or if they have a knife, you’re not there, you’re an indirect victim. That was property damage, but you your stuff was stolen, but you individually would not a we’re not in a violent situation. If you’re at home, someone robs you that we’ve had clients that were asleep when they were robbed. That’s not enough, either. So there needs to be like a felony, that needs to be assault, there needs to be impact. Now, if they come in, and they’re holding a gun, that’s enough to holding a knife. That’s enough, if they tie you up and hit you. That’s enough. Back to Gabrielle and Quan, five requirements that we control. victim of violent crime, there are 23 had information about the crime, meaning it was reported to the police doesn’t have to be the police could be division of civil rights could be Division of Child Services, it really depends on the incident. But you need generally law enforcement set up an agency with an investigatory authority. So it’s reported three, you weren’t helpful in the investigation, or in the tribunal in court. So if the police asks you to come in and identify, you got to do it. If a prosecutor reaches out and wants you to testify, you got to do it. If you refuse to do it, then you’re not being helpful, you don’t qualify. And again, this is why we order everything in the investigation stage, because we need to prove it. And even if you say you were a victim, if we can’t prove it, you don’t, you don’t succeed. And if you have an order of removal, or if you, you know, if you’re denied, we may be placing you at risk, we don’t take a chance with your lives. So we check everything, victim of violent crime, had information about the crime helpful with law enforcement in the investigation, or the trial of that crime, you suffer emotionally or physically. If you were shot, that’s a physical ailment, right? Mass Shooting. There were bodies everywhere. That’s trauma, that’s emotional. So that would be psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, all of the above. And five, you’re a good person, meaning you deserve to get this. Now this is where the government looks at a totality if you just got out of jail for 20 years for murder. The fact you’re a victim of domestic violence probably isn’t going to be enough. But so the immigration will look at your entire past and determine what happened here and see if you deserve getting it. Those are the five requirements that we can control. What I mean by that is you are either victim or you’re not. You either helped or you didn’t. If you’re if you committed lots of crimes. That’s something you decided to do. That’s what I mean by control. The last requirement is a law enforcement certification. That’s where prosecutor, police department judge or other agency signs a document saying you were a victim and you were helpful. Those are the six requirements that we need. Five are in our control victim of violent crime. had information about the crime was helpful in the prosecution or investigation of the crime. You were you suffered emotionally or physically you You’re a good person that deserves it. And law enforcement says a okay, you were a victim and you were helpful.
Mark: So sounds like there’s a lot to this when it comes to the considerations, and it sounds like some of these considerations are abstract at best, good moral character, they could be suggestive. But nonetheless, I’m sure there’s a good idea of what they’re looking for. What if you’re a person in this situation, you’re not quite sure where you fit into this mold? Or what documents you should be getting? What should be your next step?
Andres: Well other than talking to me, right? You visa is not something you should do on your own. You know, we have plenty of clients apply for citizenship, they file for a green card, sometimes they screw it up, which is why they become our clients, but a lot of people file and get approved. The problem is u visa takes so long to achieve. But right now it’s taken over five years, if you make a mistake. Now, you may not know about it, until five years have passed. And what happens if you’re a victim of crime and your children are now over? 21? If you so you run because it takes so long, if you make a mistake, the risk is denial, and then normally just refile. Well what happens if your child is now aged out? You’re still gonna get it, your child might not.
Mark: If I don’t know what documents I need, how can or how to prove or quantify everything you’re talking about. What should be my next step to try to?
Andres: your next step is to find a good immigration attorney, whether it’s us or somebody else, only because it gets really complicated. And we saw about a third to 40% of all immigration work that we do, and we’re exclusively immigration law firm is victims of violent crimes, U Visa or VAWA. So we do a pretty high volume every single year, there’s not much we haven’t seen in this space. And of those about a third have been screwed up before by another attorney or by someone without an attorney. Give you an example. There was a case in California, that hired counsel, victim of a violent crime, law enforcement signed the certification, they submitted it and immigration denied them why the law enforcement certification was filled out incorrectly. What do I mean by incorrectly? The officer wrote so and so was a witness to the crime and helped us in our investigation. 100% accurate. But they weren’t just a witness. They were a victim. But because the law enforcement application didn’t say that immigration denied them and say, Hey, y’all. Issue number one is where you a victim of a qualifying crime. If the law enforcers suffocation says you were not, then you’re not. And they waited four years, then it took us two years to fix it. Because they denied it. And we had to get a new law enforcement application. We had to get f we had to supplement and essentially redo it all. Today, they got a U Visa. And they’re they’re filing for the green card very quickly. But do you need an attorney? No, you don’t just understand you’re going to have to invest a whole lot of time to get it right. And when I say get an attorney, I mean, an immigration attorney that has familiarity with U visa? Because if they haven’t, yes, can they do a good job? Sure. But you don’t want them learning while they’re working for you.
Mark/Jose: Makes sense. Yeah. And look, I can’t even wait on hold too long on a phone call. Okay. I, I’m with you on that I can I can totally appreciate that. Now the big question, right, everybody’s wondering like so look, sounds like there’s hoops, we gotta jump through things we got to get right. We’re walking a straight and narrow path. Right. So how big is this? Is this surprise, our prize at the end of the road? So I guess, does a U Visa lead to a green card or citizenship in the United States?
Andres: previously, we talked about the requirements for a U Visa? And they said, Hey, for us, it’s a three-step process. And we only talked about step one. Step one was getting the proving those five elements victim of a violent crime had information about that crime was helpful the investigation or tribunal suffered emotionally or physically serious injury, physical or emotional and good person, right. The last requirement is getting that supplement beat. So number one is the investigation make sure we can prove it. Once we can prove it, then we request a loan for certification from an A from an appropriate agency. Which one depends on the circumstances. Usually I ask every single one that I can and all I need is one to say yes. If we get more than one fantastic but I only need one. So second step is getting the law enforcement certification. The third and last step is actually filing the case with immigration. Because if we don’t get known for certification, you will be denied 100% of the time there is no point filing and telling immigration Hey, here, I am no point doing that the only way you volunteer say I’m right here, this is where I work. This is where I live. This is where my kids and my spouse and my entire family is. I only do that when I think where I know I’m gonna get approved. Right. So the final step is preparing the applications for you and for your entire family. And by that point, we know there’s nothing in your past that disqualifies you, we know that we can prove that you qualify. Now it’s a matter of getting you in line and getting you approved as quickly as the government can. it takes a long time.
Mark: So for some undocumented immigrants, this could be their golden ticket. Now the important stuff, how long does it take? How much does it cost? Will it help their family members?
Andres: So I can’t answer all of those in one question, because I’ll be talking for half an hour. And some of it to be honest, we’re going to cover next week, what I can tell you quickly, is it’s taking about five years to get approved, because there’s only 10,000 visas a year. Now, if the faster you file, the faster the that time, while the faster starts faster, you get it, but also you’re gonna get employment authorization through what’s called bonafide fee determination. So immigration is gonna do a cursory review of your case. It’s taking about a year, and then they’re gonna give you employment authorization during the intervening time. We’ll go over in more detail, how much does it cost, why it takes so long? What are the necessary steps? We’ll cover all of that next week, so stay tuned.
Mark/Jose: Ok, you are absolutely right. I just got a little excited. So, everyone will need to watch next week to hear about those things.
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