Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Immigration Question of the Week

By Atty Beverly Byrd

Question:  Hello Attorney Byrd.  I hope you could answer my question.  I’m always informed by your column.  I’ve been in the U.S. since my parents brought me here in 2006, and have no legal status.  A few years ago, I was attacked by several young men that I didn’t know after leaving a gym in San Jose.  I was stabbed in the stomach, and left on the sidewalk.  My attackers were ultimately caught by the police and prosecuted.  My cousin told me that I might qualify for a U visa.  Is this true?  Thank you Attorney Byrd.  Ted.

Answer:  Hello Ted.  First, I’m sorry to hear about the terrible events that happened to you, and I am hope that you have no ill effects from the attack.  You may be able to qualify for a U visa, as it seems likely that your attack was a felonious assault.  First, please see the information below, and if you think that you may qualify, then second, see a competent immigration attorney.
Immigration Topic of the Week:  U Visas
Are you or have you been the victim of a crime?  You might qualify for a U Visa.

The purpose of a U Visa is to give victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States for up to 4 years.  The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa, and only 10,000 U visas may be issued every fiscal year.  Family members may also be included on the petition including spouses, children, unmarried sisters and brothers under 18, mothers, fathers, as well as stepparents and adoptive parents.  An approved U visa petition will automatically grant the applicant work eligibility in the United States.

An applicant for a U visa must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to a criminal activity in a t least one of the following categories:  rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, hostage situations, peonage, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, blackmail, extortion, manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, perjury or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes.

All petitions must include information on how the victim can or did assist government officials in learning more about the crime including investigation and/or prosecution of the individual(s) that committed the crime. The victim must also be willing to, or did work with local law enforcement. The crime must have occurred in the United States or in a U.S. territory, or violated U.S. law.

A portion of U visa application must be certified by a Federal, State or local law enforcement agency, such as a prosecutor or a Federal or State judge in charge of the investigation in which the petitioner is the victim. Without this certification, the U visa petition cannot be submitted. However, a certification alone is not enough to establish eligibility as all facts around the petition will be considered. The certifying individual must be the head of the agency or a person designated to issue U nonimmigrant certifications. If at any point the victim stops to cooperate with law enforcement, the certification can be withdrawn.

Immigration News and Updates
New USCIS Medical Form
For those filing a green card application, you should be aware that USCIS has a new medical form, Form I-693 as of November 1, 2011.  To ensure no delays in your green card case, ensure that your Civil Surgeon, or USCIS approved physician, uses the new form.  Civil surgeons completing medical examinations between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011, should use the new form dated 10/11/11. However, USCIS will continue to accept the previous version, dated 7/20/10, for examinations completed between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, civil surgeons must use the new version of the form.  If a medical examination completed on or after Jan. 1, 2012, is reported using an outdated form, USCIS will reject the form, requiring the applicant to return to the civil surgeon and resubmit the new form.  

Update on the New ICE Policy on Prosecutorial Discretion
The Chief Counsel’s office that handles cases in the San Francisco immigration court appears to be approving requests to administratively close deportation cases for young persons who were brought to the U.S. with their parents while still minors, are in the U.S. without legal status and who are currently attending college.  If this applies to you or your family member, seek the advice of a competent immigration attorney to determine whether it is appropriate to try to close your deportation case.

Attorney Beverly Byrd received a Master’s in International Law from the prestigious Georgetown University law Center in Washington, D.C.  Philippines President Arroyo and U.S. President Bill Clinton are alumni of Georgetown. Attorney Byrd has practiced only immigration law for over 10 years.  She has helped thousands of Filipinos in the Bay Area with their immigration issues.  

Currently, Byrd & Associates offers a consultation with Attorney Byrd for $25.  Please feel free to contact Attorney Byrd via e-mail at, or via telephone at either of her Bay Area two offices found below.  You can also visit our website to read our immigration Blog, follow us on Twitter and Facebook and see our LinkedIn profile.

San Jose Office   
95 S. Market Street, Suite 300 
San Jose, CA 95113  
Toll Free 800-794-4546  

San Francisco Office
One Embarcadero Center,
Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94111
Toll Free 800-794-4546

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