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U-Visa Program

Congress created the U-Visa program for certain victims of criminal activity with the enactment of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.

Under the statute, a non-citizen may be entitled to a U-Visa if the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determines that the applicant has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity, and was helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, or government officials in the detection, investigation, prosecution, conviction or sentencing of the qualifying criminal activity.

Eligibility for a U-Visa

In order to be eligible for a U-Visa, the applicant must obtain a certification from a certifying agency or official explaining that the victim has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the detection, investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of qualifying criminal activity. Judges are listed in the federal statute as eligible certifiers to complete the U visa Certification Form I-918, Supplement B.


The certification is required to establish eligibility for the U-Visa, but does not by itself grant immigration status to the applicant. To obtain a U visa, applicants must meet eligibility requirements in addition to U visa certification. DHS has sole authority to grant or deny a U- Visa.


The Presiding Judge will assign all U-Visa certification requests received by the Civil Division of the San Francisco Superior Court to a Judge designated to sign U-Visa certifications. This approach helps ensure uniformity of decision and a clear transparent process for the applicant. For more information, consult the San Francisco Superior Court’s U visa protocol.

All California Courts are required to report the number of U-Visa certifications that were signed and the number of certifications that were not signed to the California Legislature. The San Francisco Superior Court’s certification activity is available here.

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