Beginning in January, prosecutors and police in California will be required to assist some immigrants who are victims of crime in California in obtaining special visas in exchange for the individual’s help in criminal investigations. The so-called “U Visa” will be made available to immigrants who assist law enforcement and prosecutor’s offices in criminal investigations, and all law enforcement agencies across California will be required to complete certification forms for the U-Visa when immigrants provide them assistance.

The aim of the California Immigrant Victims of Crime Equity Act is to increase public safety by encouraging all individuals who witness crimes in California or have any knowledge or information about a crime to come forward and report their information to law enforcement, without concern for their current immigration status.

San Diego immigration attorney Maria Chavez cites immigrants’ fears of deportation as a reason that some may fail to come forward an assist in criminal investigations. She believes that with the passage of this Act, immigrants will begin to come forward to work with police and prosecutor’s offices to assist in criminal investigations and to help solve active criminal cases.

California’s Immigrant Victims of Crime Equity Act is similar to a current federal law that governs U-Visas and offers additional protections for select crime victims who are immigrants to the United States. What sets California’s Act apart from the federal law is that the federal law gives law enforcement agencies the discretion in whether or not to complete the certification that would allow an immigrant to qualify for the U-Visa, while California’s Act requires law enforcement to complete the certificate for the U-Visa if the individual assists with a criminal investigation. This provides immigrants who come forward with legal protections not offered by other states. With California’s large undocumented immigrant population, this Act allows California to offer extended legal protections to large groups of people who may otherwise fear coming forward.

At the Law Office of Robert David Baker, Inc., we’ve built our practice and our reputation around advocating for the immigration rights of those looking to become US citizens. We are proud to offer expert immigration legal services and we are available to answer questions or concerns you have about U-Visas or any other immigration law or program. Call us today to schedule a free consultation, and to have your case evaluated by our experienced legal staff.