U Visa – Calling the Police Could be the Best Decision You Ever Made
It is a common scene in immigrant communities throughout the United States: a house is broken in to; a car is stolen; a humble worker is assaulted on his way home from a long had day at work;
a wife is beaten by her husband while trying to protect her children. And while all of these terrible things are going on, no one is calling the police. Why? Why are we so afraid to call the police?
Why do we refuse to call on the people who are paid to protect the innocent? It is because we believe that the police care more about a person’s immigration status than the crime that they are trying to report. However, this is simply not true.
Yes, if you break the law, the police may ask you about your immigration status. And yes, Immigration and Customs Enforcement can and will place a hold on someone who was arrested even for a simple misdemeanor. But if you are the victim of a crime, you owe it to yourself and your family to call the police, report the crime, and cooperate during the investigation and prosecution of the criminal.
The “U Visa” was created by Congress to protect immigrants who are victims of criminal activity and incentivize people to assist law enforcement in the investigation of those crimes. To be eligible for a U Visa you must be the victim of a qualifying crime, have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse because of the crime, possess information about the crime, and be willing and able to help in the investigation and prosecution of the crime. If granted a U Visa by the immigration service, you will be able to receive employment authorization and, eventually, lawful permanent residence. More importantly, this benefit could extend to your spouse and children and occasionally parents.
Among the greatest benefits of the U Visa, is that once granted U Visa status, a previous order of deportation is automatically canceled. So, even those who were ordered deported by an immigration judge are eligible to receive a U Visa. This is proof that the United States government wants immigrants to feel safe to call the police and report crimes against them and their family members.
However, because a police officer, prosecutor, or other government official has to certify that you are assisting in the investigation and or prosecution of the criminal activity, it is can be difficult to obtain a U Visa. Working with the government is a complicated and frustrating process, especially for immigrants who may not be fluent in English. That is why you need an attorney that speaks your language and will fight for you.
Think of Joao – a fictional character in a real situation. Joao was the victim of a home invasion in a Brazilian neighborhood in Pompano Beach. He and his roommate were verbally threatened and
physically assaulted. Both suffered severe mental trauma. Joao called the police, provided valuable information, and assisted in the investigation.
However, Joao did not know how to seek the necessary certification from the police. Months passed and Joao moved to another city. He did not know what to do next. Fortunately for Joao, he met Felipe Alexandre. After a few phone calls, Felipe was able to speak with the police official in charge of U Visa certifications and obtain a document Joao was unable to obtain after nearly ten months. Now Joao is on his way to receiving his U Visa!
So if you have been the victim of a crime, remember that it is not too late. You can still call the police, report the crime, and seek a U Visa. Do not fear calling the police, it may the best decision you have ever made.