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Kohl-Welles: County must speed up visa certification process for immigrant victims of violent crime

Summary

Kohl-Welles requested funding in the budget ensures U visa requests will be processed within the state-mandated 90-day time frame.

Story

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles successfully secured funding in the 2019-2020 county budget to add an additional full-time records management specialist to ensure the King County Sheriff’s Office is processing U visa requests within the state-mandated 90-day time frame.

“Non-citizens in the United States are especially vulnerable if they become victims of a crime,” said Kohl-Welles. “While King County welcomes all immigrants regardless of their immigration status, we must go above and beyond to ensure these victims of crime have equal access to justice and are able to help law enforcement without fear of retribution or deportation.”

The U nonimmigrant status visa, also known as the U visa, is essentially a permit that allows for victims of crime immigrating into the United States, or non-citizens already in the United States, to enter or remain in the U.S. when they might not otherwise be able to do so. There is a list of qualifying crimes, including domestic violence and sexual assault, for which victims are able to qualify for being granted a U visa. The crime must have occurred in the United States and the victim must be helpful to law enforcement or the government agency that is investigating the crime.

Currently, it can take up to six months for the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) to certify U visa requests.  In emergency cases, such as if it is for an applicant under the age of 21, KCSO would be required to respond to U visa requests within 14 days of receipt.

In addition, T visas, a similar visa for victims of trafficking, are included in the budget language.

 

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at https://kingcounty.gov/council/legislation.aspx and type in “2018-0465”

 

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