On March 17th, 2021, the Colorado House of Representatives passed HB21-1060, a bill which revised the requirements for the U Visa certification process and made it easier for U Visa petitioners to move forward with the process.
U Visas were created in October 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act with the purpose of providing victims of crimes in the United States a pathway to lawful permanent residency. When an individual, regardless of their immigration status, was the victim of a qualifying crime and assisted law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution, USCIS would be able to grant them a U Visa. This process required the petitioner to attain certification from law enforcement regarding the crime and attesting to the petitioner’s helpfulness and cooperation. However, this certification had no standard processing guidelines which meant that some petitioners could be waiting for years before receiving their certification.
HB21-1060 resolved this issue by requiring a statewide standard of approving or rejecting U Visa certification requests within 90 days. If a petitioner is in removal proceedings, the certification must be approved or rejected within 30 days. If the certification request is rejected, the petitioner must be notified of the reasons why. These new requirements greatly cut down on the wait times for petitioners across the state.
In addition to the processing deadlines, HB21-1060 contains a few more additions to the Colorado U Visa process. One requires law enforcement officials to inform victims of crimes about the availability of U Visas, as many eligible victims are completely unaware of this possible benefit. Additionally, HB21-1060 restricts the disclosure of the petitioner’s immigration status to immigration authorities.
With faster processing times for U Visas, it will be more possible for the residents of Colorado to turn bad experiences into great opportunities. If you think you or a loved one may be eligible for a U Visa, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.
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