WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor 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.
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.