DHS Announces New Process for Noncitizen Workers to Participate in Labor Investigations

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented a streamlined and expedited deferred action request process for a noncitizen worker who cooperates in a labor standards investigation after being a victim of, or witnesses to, labor violations. This program is the latest initiative forming part of a worksite enforcement strategy, which was introduced by the DHS in October 2021.


In October 2021, the DHS directed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to update policies to enhance the ability of the DHS to support the enforcement of employment and labor standards.

In implementing this latest initiative regarding the streamlined and expedited deferred action process, the DHS noted that this policy is designed to protect noncitizen workers from threats of immigration-related retaliation from exploitative employers. Some of the highlights of this initiative include the following:

  • A request for deferred action must include a letter from a federal, state, or local labor agency asking DHS to consider deferred action on behalf of the worker employed by the organization subject to investigation.
  • An initial grant of deferred action typically will last for two years. Individuals who are granted deferred action may apply for employment authorization, provided the foreign national can show an economic necessity for employment.
  • If the individual is in removal proceedings or has a final order of removal, after reviewing the submission for completeness, the USCIS will forward the deferred action request to ICE to make a final determination on a case-by-case basis.


This process comes as part of the Biden Administration’s pledge to protect workers who are exploited by unethical employers. This particular program should make it easier for foreign nationals to come forward, as it offers some protections against an employer that may threaten immigration-related retaliation.


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