For the First Time, the United States Department of Labor Grants U & T Visa Certification Authority to OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has historically been responsible for enforcing occupational health and safety laws that allow workers to perform jobs under safe protocols that provide them with recourse when subject to workplace retaliation.
On February 13, 2023, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh joined OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker to sign a memorandum that provides OSHA with the authority to issue certifications in support of applications for U nonimmigrant status and T nonimmigrant status visas.
U & T Visa Certifications
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 established two types of immigration benefits available to certain victims of crime. The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) provides temporary status to victims of an enumerated list of “qualifying criminal activities” (QCAs) who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity. The T nonimmigrant status (T visa) provides temporary status to certain victims of human trafficking who have or are willing to assist law enforcement authorities in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of trafficking crimes.
Effective March 30, 2023, this authority will allow OSHA to authorize certifications when the agency, during a workplace safety investigation, identifies certain criminal activities, including forced labor, involuntary servitude, witness tampering, perjury, murder, manslaughter, blackmail, trafficking, extortion, felonious assault, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the listed crimes.
What does this mean for employers?
This grant of authority may change the nature of OSHA workplace investigations. OSHA’s new grant of authority will permit the agency to issue U & T visa certifications during their inspections when the agency identifies QCAs. It is important for employers to note that OSHA inspections are serious activities that have the potential to raise grave ramifications.
Click here to access the U.S. Department of Labor’s February 2023 press release concerning this news.
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