In an effort to improve collaboration between law enforcement and noncitizen residents who have been the victims of a violent or other serious crime, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, has begun to speed up the U-Visa process for immigrants claiming asylum.Frederick Melo, “For Immigrant Crime Victims, St. Paul Speeds Visa Process to Push Cooperation with Police,” Twin Cities Pioneer Press, June 11, 2018.
Under the U-Visa program, immigrants who are victims of crimes such as blackmail or stalking can claim asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, but first they must submit a signed certification form from a law enforcement agency.USCIS, “Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status.”“Immigrant Crime Victims,” 2018. St. Paul took affirmative steps in 2017 to clarify and standardize the review process—for example, codifying that being “helpful” includes making the initial report of the crime—and saw immediate results: the number of approved requests quadrupled.Melo, “Immigrant Crime Victims,” 2018. By early 2018, the department was routinely approving 90 percent of U-Visa confirmation requests, with a new expedited process to protect noncitizens who are slated for removal proceedings.Melo, “Immigrant Crime Victims,” 2018. The city hopes the new procedures will help convince crime victims to come forward, improve trust in the police, and increase community safety.Melo, “Immigrant Crime Victims,” 2018.