Charlotte, N.C. – (Wednesday, May 5, 2021) –The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department recently updated the department's policy concerning the processing of U-Visa applications.
In 2010, the CMPD began voluntarily facilitating the U-Visa program, which provides a nonimmigrant Visa for victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse while in the United States. The CMPD reviews each application to determine if the petitioner meets the criteria outlined by the Department of Homeland Security. The federal criteria for certification require the petitioner to be a victim of a qualifying crime, be helpful in the investigation and prosecution of the qualifying crime and requires the prosecution to be successful.
The CMPD collaborated with leaders in the Hispanic community, District Attorney Spencer Merriweather and other stakeholders to create an updated policy for the program. Under the updated policy, language has been changed to be more supportive of crime victims, and the CMPD is certifying the U-Visa petitions even if they are not necessarily needed for court or successful prosecution at the time of the application. Additionally, CMPD is limiting its criminal record checks on applicants to five years and only considering offenses dangerous to the public to be potential disqualifiers for the petitioner. Some examples of potential disqualifiers are multiple felonies, violent crimes, burglaries, domestic violence offenses, resisting a public officer, dangerous driving offenses, etc. There is also an updated 90-day appeal process made available to applicants.
Although the CMPD does not grant, approve or issue U-Visas, the CMPD does certify qualified applications meeting the federal guidelines and forwards the applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services for their approval. The CMPD believes this program strengthens our ability to prevent and prosecute serious crimes, and one of the first policies Chief Johnny Jennings wanted reviewed after being sworn in was the way the department processed the U-Visa applications.
The CMPD believes updating its U-Visa application process will allow the cultivation of an even stronger relationship with the community. The CMPD processes U-Visa applications free of charge, and petitioners can access the application by visiting the CMPD's website, here.