In June of 2018, the Washington State Legislature passed the Safety and Access for Immigrant Victims Act. The goal of this bill is to promote consistent and equal treatment and offer protections to immigrant victims statewide. Ensuring that all victims of crime are able to access the protections available to them under the law is in the best interest of victims, law enforcement and the entire community.
Safety and Access for Immigrant Victims Act Fact Sheet – English (PDF)
- Requires certifying agencies (defined as law enforcement, prosecutors, administrative judges, hearing officers and agencies that have investigative jurisdiction in their respective area of expertise) to do the following:
- Make a determination that a victim was a victim of a qualified crime.
- Make a determination that the victim has been helpful; is currently being helpful; or is likely to be helpful in the detention, investigation, and prosecution of the criminal activity.
- Documented the above information appropriately on the federal U and T visa certification forms.
- Process the certifications within 90 days of the request, unless the victim is in federal immigration removal proceedings, in which the request must be processed within 14 days.
- Identify an individual at their agency that is responsible for responding to certification requests.
- Provide outreach and education to the community regarding U and T visa certifications.
- Provide documentation of the number of certifications signed, denied, and/or withdrawn to the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) annually.
2. Ensures that certifying agencies have language access protocols for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and deaf and hard of hearing victims.
3. Provides confidentiality for victims, in that certifying agencies are not to disclose personal identifying information and immigration status unless disclosure is required under relevant federal law or court order.
4. Requires that OCVA convene a Crime Victim Certification Steering Committee.
The U non-immigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity. You can read more about the U Visa here.
The T non-immigrant status (T visa) is a temporary immigration benefit that enables certain victims of a severe form of human trafficking to remain in the United States for up to four years if they have assisted law enforcement in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. You can read more about the T Visa here.
Crime Victim Certification Steering Committee
The Safety and Access for Immigrant Victim’s Act created the Crime Victim Certification Steering Committee to be convened by the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy. The committee must include members representing the best interest of immigrant crime victims and is tasked with specific objectives and outcomes.
Steering Committee Meeting Materials
If you are an immigrant victim/survivor of criminal activity and/or human trafficking, there may be protections available to you. It is recommended that you access legal services to assist you in determining a direction. Please click here for some resources in the state of Washington that are available to you.
Certifying Agency Database
Coming soon: A database of certifying agencies in the state of Washington. Please continue to check back as we develop the database. In the interim, if you are searching for a certifying agency and/or official, please discuss with your legal representative or contact Program Manager Melissa Krouse listed on this page for assistance.
For Certifying Agencies and Officials
RCW 7.98.020 (6)(c) requires each certifying agency identified in RCW 7.98 to keep written documentation of the following:
- the number of certification forms that were signed
- the number of certification forms that were denied
- the number of certification forms that were withdrawn
This information is to be reported to the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) on an annual basis.
The first reporting period will be from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019. Please click here to access the web form to complete for the reporting requirements.
Your initial reporting form is due by Aug. 15, 2019. If you have any questions regarding reporting, please contact Program Manager Melissa Krouse listed on this page for assistance.
Questions, Concerns or Recommendations
RCW 7.98 requires that the Crime Victim Certification Steering Committee establish mechanisms for the public to report concerns and offer recommendations on the implementation of the Safety and Access for Immigrant Victims Act.
If you have concern(s) and/or recommendation(s) that you would like to share, please click here and complete the web form or use the printed form below:
Concerns Reporting Form – English (PDF)