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Labor Based Deferred Action


Are you undocumented or on a temporary visa and have faced mistreatment at work? Were you underpaid for your wages, working in unsafe conditions, or a victim of visa fraud by your employer? If so, there is a new program with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in collaboration with labor departments across the country where you can report this mistreatment without worrying about your immigration status. The program is Labor Based Deferred Action. The purpose of the program is to give temporary protection from deportation to workers who participate in labor investigations.

What does one get from Labor Based Deferred Action?

Labor Based Deferred Action (“Deferred Action”) lasts for two years, and it is a commitment from DHS not to enter deportation proceedings during those two years. Deferred Action can be extended if the investigation continues past two years. A Deferred Action recipient may also apply for an employment authorization card at the same time so they can work legally for the two years they are cooperating with the investigation. Deferred Action is a temporary form of relief; it is not a pathway to citizenship but rather a protection against deportation.

Who is eligible?

You are eligible if:

  • You are a non-citizen;
  • Your current or former employer is subject to an open investigation at a labor agency; AND
  • The labor agency investigating has submitted a letter to DHS requesting Deferred Action (this is called a “Statement of Interest”).

Deferred Action also requires you to cooperate in the investigation on some level, like filing a report with that same reporting agency. A worker does not have to be in removal proceedings in order to qualify for Deferred Action; they just have to be a non-citizen.

What is a labor investigation?

A labor investigation is when a worker or group of workers at a worksite report a labor or employment law violation to a federal, state, or local agency that initiates an investigation. You don’t have to be the person who reported the violation to qualify for Deferred Action; you only have to work at a site where the investigation is happening and be willing to participate in an investigation.

Examples of the type of workplace violations an employee can report are: not receiving overtime pay; discriminatory behavior based on race, sex, gender, or disability; being fired for complaining about working conditions or talking about unionizing; OSHA violations; being fired for requesting parental leave; or being threatened with deportation for speaking about workplace conditions. These are just examples of workplace violations—there are others that may qualify.

Which labor agency do you have to report to?

You can report to the federal Department of Labor or the New Jersey Department of Labor Workforce Development to begin an investigation into your workplace.
Federal Hotline: 1-866-487-9243
NJ DOL: (609) 292-2305

Now I know I have this remedy, what do I do?

Handling the complaint process can be difficult on your own. If you think you are being mistreated at work and would like help issuing complaints against your employer, please contact the LSNJLAWSM Hotline online at or by phone at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW, or call your local labor center to find someone who can walk you through the complaint process.