U visas 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 (4) years and may eventually apply for lawful permanent residency. U Visas may be a significant tool for undocumented workers. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor will review and consider whether specific qualifying criminal activity and workplace abuses are appropriate for a U Visa. The Wage and Hour Division has stated that it will consider completing U visa certifications based on five qualifying criminal activities (listed below) when it detects them in the process of investigating violations of minimum wage and overtime rights.
Examples of Qualifying Criminal Activities for a U Visa
1. Involuntary servitude 2. Peonage 3. Trafficking 4. Obstruction of justice; and 5. Witness tampering.
Analysis of What the Department of Labor Will Consider When Determining Whether To Support a U Visa Petition
The U.S. Department of Labor will consider the following issues: (i) whether the qualifying criminal activity arises in the context of an employment relationship or work environment and there is a related, credible allegation of a violation of a law the Department of Labor enforces; (ii) if the petitioner alleges a qualifying criminal activity of involuntary servitude, peonage, trafficking, obstruction of justice or witness tampering; (iii) the petitioner has demonstrated that he or she has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement officials in any investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity; (iv) if another law enforcement agency is already engaged in the investigation of the qualifying criminal activity or would be in a better position to certify based on the facts presented; and, (v) whether completion of the U Visa Certification would assist the Department’s investigation of a violation of a law that it enforces.
It is important to recognize that not every workplace abuse will qualify for a U Visa. For example, non-payment of overtime pay for two weeks most likely would not be a basis for a U Visa.
Our Employment Law Attorneys have represented clients before the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and in the U Visa process and can help you learn and assert your rights – call now to speak with one of our experienced immigration U Visa lawyers at (800) 893-9645.
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