The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been given the authority to issue certifications in support of applications for T and U nonimmigrant visas beginning March 30, 2023.
To assist agencies in combatting human trafficking and other crimes, OSHA will issue these certifications during workplace safety investigations that identify qualifying criminal activities, including trafficking, forced labor, and obstruction of justice.
T visas enable certain victims of severe trafficking to remain in the United States for up to four years if they comply with any reasonable request for assistance from law enforcement to detect, investigate, or prosecute human trafficking. T status protects individuals from retaliation for cooperating with law enforcement and offers individuals employment authorization and a path to permanent residence. T status can also be extended to qualifying family members. Because traffickers can take advantage of undocumented individuals, T visas protect them and, at the same time, help law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes. Although 5,000 visas are available annually, that cap usually is not reached.
U visas are available to victims of a broad range of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and who help law enforcement or government officials in such criminal investigations. Like the T visa, the U visa is designed to strengthen law enforcement and protect undocumented individuals from abuse, exploitation, and retaliation. There are 10,000 U visas available annually but, if the cap is reached, petitioners can be placed on a waiting list and granted deferred action or parole and may apply for work authorization. Also like T visas, U visas are available to qualifying family members, and principals and eligible family members may apply for employment authorization. Permanent residence is also a possibility after three years in U status.
Both T and U visas require evidence to establish compliance with any reasonable request for assistance from law enforcement unless the individual qualifies for an exemption from that requirement. Victims may submit a Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons for T visas. U visa applicants must submit a Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigration Status Certification. Agencies that can provide certifications include: tribal and territorial law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, child and adult protective services, federal and state departments of labor, and other government agencies with civil or administrative investigation and prosecutorial authority. Now, OSHA is specifically included.
Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist with any questions regarding OSHA investigations and the intersection between those investigations and grants of T and U visas.