Monday, March 15, 2010

U Visa changes

Department of Labor Announces Certification of U-Visas

Washington, DC -- Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced today that the U.S. Dept. of Labor will begin certifying U nonimmigrant status visas (U visas) as early as this summer. The DOL's announcement marks a great step forward in the protection of vulnerable immigrant workers. NILC looks forward to working with DOL on drafting the implementing protocol to ensure that the most common criminal activities workers are subjected to qualify for certification.

Created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (TVPA), U visas are an important means to combat workplace exploitation. The visa allows victims of certain crimes who have suffered physical or emotional abuse, and who are willing to cooperate with authorities, the ability to remain in the United States for up to four years and the possibility to apply for permanent residence. Recognizing that unscrupulous employers often target immigrant workers for retaliation or abuse, advocates nationwide have pushed for DOL's certification of U visas since the legislation's passage.

"DOL's announcement is extremely important, as there are an increasing number of egregious situations where employers commit state and federal crimes that fall under the agency's jurisdiction," said Tyler Moran, policy director for the National Immigration Law Center. "We now look to Congress to provide DOL with additional tools to enforce the law by supporting expansion of U visas to the many immigrant workers who experience egregious violations of civil labor and employment laws -- including wage theft."

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