US Department of Labor expands OSHA’s ability to protect all workers by certifying special visa applications to ensure effective enforcement

Secretary Walsh gives OSHA authority to provide ‘U’ and ‘T’ visa certifications

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh joined Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker today to sign a memorandum that gives the Occupational Safety and Health Administration the authority to issue certifications in support of applications for U Nonimmigrant Status and T Nonimmigrant Status visas.

“U Visas” and “T Visas” allow victims of specific crimes to help law enforcement detect, investigate and prosecute crimes without fear of retaliation based on their immigration status. These visas provide immigration status to non-citizen victims and allow them to remain in the U.S. to assist authorities in combatting human trafficking and other crimes.

For the first time, OSHA will be able to issue these visa certifications – during its workplace safety investigations – when the agency identifies qualifying criminal activities, including manslaughter, trafficking, extortion, felonious assault, forced labor and obstruction of justice.

OSHA’s new authority – effective March 30, 2023 – will strengthen its ability to protect all workers, including those whose immigration status or other social and cultural inequities discourage them from sharing information with investigators or reporting workplace safety and health issues. The authority will also provide the agency with a critical tool for protecting immigrant and migrant worker communities regardless of their lack of immigration status or temporary employment authorization.

“Expanding OSHA’s U and T visa certification authority helps the agency better fulfill its mission to make U.S. workplaces as safe and healthy as possible,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Workers in the U.S. need to feel empowered and able to trust OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor enough to voice their concerns about workplace safety regardless of their immigration status and fears of retaliation.”

“By enabling OSHA to issue U and T visa certifications, we will be empowering some of our economy’s most vulnerable workers to tell us if their jobs are jeopardizing their safety and health, and that of their co-workers, and to support our enforcement efforts,” Parker added.

The initiative announced today aligns with the department’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility plan and the Biden-Harris administration’s effort to advance racial equity and support for underserved communities across the federal government and improve job quality nationwide.

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