For noncitizen victims of serious crimes, a U visa can provide safety through a pathway to citizenship and legal employment. Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges play a crucial role in the U visa process by certifying that the victim has assisted with the detection, investigation, and prosecution of the crime. Without this, a petitioner cannot obtain a U visa.

Unfortunately, certifying agencies are not required to have an internal policy or procedure for U visa certification, which can lead to unclear information and delays for victims. Current Pennsylvania law does not provide the clear guidance certifying agencies need to process U visa certification requests quickly and comprehensively. Ultimately, this lack of guidance can lead to incomplete petitions and delays for victims.

That is why I am introducing legislation to ensure a more clear, more consistent, and victim-centered approach to the U visa certification process by requiring officials to develop a publicly accessible protocol. My bill will establish requirements for certifying officials and agencies related to request processing timeframes, record keeping, language access, training, and victim notification. By providing a blueprint for the U visa certification process, we can empower certifying agencies to help victims produce the strongest petition possible for approval.

The last thing that a victim of a serious crime needs when seeking protection is to face systemic barriers caused by missing or unclear laws. Please join me in clearing the path to safety and citizenship for these vulnerable Pennsylvanians by signing on to this direly needed legislation.