WHD News Release: [04/28/2011]
US Labor Department announces protocols for certifying U visa applications
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced protocols to complete the portion of the U visa nonimmigrant status application requiring certification by a law enforcement agency that the applicant is a victim of a qualifying crime and willing to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of that crime. U visas, as they are known, are designed to help victims of qualifying criminal activities who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse. Individuals who receive U visas may remain in the United States for up to four years and may eventually apply for permanent residency. U visas are issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“I am pleased that the department’s Wage and Hour Division has developed protocols and can begin completing U visa certifications for immigrants who are victims of crimes and willing to cooperate with law enforcement,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Because many wage and hour investigations take place in industries using vulnerable workers in abusive situations, the Wage and Hour Division is often the first federal agency to make contact with these workers and detect criminal activity in the workplace, which it may then refer to the appropriate authorities.”
The U visa certification process has been delegated to the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrators located in five cities around the country. The division will refer the underlying qualifying criminal activity to appropriate law enforcement agencies in accordance with its normal referral procedure. After the division completes a certification, the victim of the qualifying criminal activity must still submit his or her application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a determination of whether to approve the application.
The Wage and Hour Division will consider completing U visa certifications based on five qualifying criminal activities – involuntary servitude, peonage, trafficking, obstruction of justice and witness tampering – when it detects them in the process of investigating a violation of an employment law under its jurisdiction, for example, as related to minimum wage and overtime rights.
The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing federal labor laws pertaining to the minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, child labor and special employment, family and medical leave, migrant workers, lie detector tests, worker protections in certain temporary worker programs, and the prevailing wages for government service and construction contracts.
For general information about federal wage laws, call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.