By Matthew Seamon
On June 4, 2014, USCIS hosted a “listening session” teleconference regarding U nonimmigrant status visas. U visas provide immigration protection for victims of qualifying crimes who aid law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. USCIS is engaging in rulemaking to modify the U visa application and eligibility rules and sought comments and feedback from immigration advocates and other stakeholders.
Numerous CLINIC affiliates, religious organizations, other nonprofit agencies, and local law enforcement agencies participated. The session identified several key areas that many groups in the immigration community highlight as priority areas for improving U visa policy, including:
- Expanding the list of qualifying crimes that make individuals eligible for U visa consideration, including child abuse, robbery, and employment-related crimes
- Allowing additional types of law enforcement and other government officials to sign U visa certification forms
- Granting immediate provisional employment authorization for U visa applicants while their application is pending, and
- Releasing clearer guidance and additional training materials regarding U visas for state and local law enforcement agencies.
Additionally, USCIS’ Office of Policy and Strategy offers training on U nonimmigrant petition certifications. Organizations with questions on training or requests for training can send them to T_U_VAWATraining@uscis.dhs.gov. CLINIC will continue to work with national partners to strategize ways to improve the U visa program to better serve immigrant communities.