Labor Department Will Certify U Visa Applications27 Mar 2010
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced last week that her department will begin to certify U visa applications, with the first certifications expected in late summer. Long-time readers of MurthyDotCom will recall that U visas allow people with direct knowledge of a crime – such as crime victims – to come forward to cooperate with authorities, without fear of being deported or otherwise penalized for lapses in immigration status. (See: MurthyDotCom, USCIS Publishes New Rule for U Visas, 28.Sep.2007; Trafficking/VAWA Bill Signed by President in October 2000, 10.Nov.2000) The U visa was created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-386).
Under federal law, U visa applications cannot go forward without certification by a qualified law enforcement agency that the petitioner is, has been, or will be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. U visa recipients may remain in the United States for up to four years, with work authorization, and may eventually apply for permanent residency. (See: Secretary Solis Announces the Department to Exercise its Authority to Certify U Visas, U.S. Department of Labor, 15.Mar.2010)
The announcement will open the way for U visa petitioners to have their claims certified by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, which investigates a broad array of workplace violations related to the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, employment of persons with disabilities, family and medical leave, employment of migrant labor, the use of lie detector tests, and prevailing wages for government service and construction contracts.
The U visa program is a win-win for everyone, preventing victimization of vulnerable immigrants who otherwise might not report crimes for fear of removal (deportation), in the process, making everyone safer by helping law enforcement officials to bring wrongdoers to justice. DOL’s new role will ensure that workplace offenders cannot victimize foreign-born employees with impunity – and that protects all of us.