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This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

On January 13, 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that noncitizen workers who are victims of, or witnesses to, violations of labor rights can now access a “streamlined and expedited deferred action request process.” DHS explained that deferred action “protects noncitizen workers from threats of immigration-related retaliation from … exploitive employers.”

DHS said that in addition to providing new guidance to labor agencies regarding processes to seek deferred action for certain workers, DHS will also provide for a single intake point for deferred action requests from noncitizen workers that are supported by labor enforcement agencies. In addition to satisfying individual criteria to facilitate case-by-case determinations, DHS said, requests for deferred action submitted through this centralized process “must include a letter (a Statement of Interest) from a federal, state, or local labor agency asking DHS to consider exercising its discretion on behalf of workers employed by companies identified by the agency as having labor disputes related to laws that fall under its jurisdiction.”

Discretionary grants of deferred action under this process will typically last for two years, DHS said. Those granted deferred action may be eligible for work authorization if they can demonstrate an economic necessity for employment. They may also be eligible for subsequent grants of deferred action “if a labor agency has a continuing investigative or enforcement interest in the matter identified in their original letter supporting DHS use of prosecutorial discretion,” DHS said.

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