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ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Roanoke, Virginia, Police Department for Refusal to Issue U Visa Certification

Posted by Hugo R. Valverde, Managing Attorney, and Anna D. Colby, Attorney Social Media Marketing Manager | Apr 18, 2024 | 0 Comments

Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

9.2 out of 1000. That's the number of the approximately 1.1 million immigrants in Virginia who suffer harm from a crime, some of which are qualifying situations for a U visa.

A U visa is a nonimmigrant status for victims of qualifying crimes that have taken place in the United States. The victims must have experienced a certain mental or physical abuse and have been helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of that crime. 

Congress has set a cap of 10,000 U visas that can be issued annually, but thousands more apply every year, resulting in a backlog of 5-6 years. 

The first step in the U visa application process is obtaining something called a Supplement B certification from a certifying agency's (usually a Commonwealth's Attorney or a police department) certifying official. According to Virginia law, those offices have a very specified time within which to answer the request. 

This last month the ACLU of Virginia made history by filing a lawsuit against the Roanoke Police Department on behalf of an immigrant domestic violence survivor whose U visa certification was allegedly refused to be signed by the Roanoke Police Department (PD). According to the ACLU, their immigrant client assisted the Roanoke PD in an investigation against her former partner, and the agency signed an initial U visa certification for her in 2012, but refused to re-certify the document when needed. 

The police department has stated that it is not required by state or federal law to assist the ACLU's client, but the ACLU is arguing that because the Roanoke PD already certified the U visa document, it is required by Virginia law to re-certify it. 

The hearing for this lawsuit will be taking place this month and we will be keeping a close eye on its outcome, as it will likely affect many of our clients. Our office is one of the immigration law firms in the Hampton Roads area that specializes in U visas. If you think you may qualify for one please contact us for a consultation.

You can reach us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

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