The Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs (DIPA) works inside and outside the Department of Labor to serve the needs of immigrants. We make sure our protections, services, and programs are available to everyone, including people with limited English proficiency.
DIPA teaches immigrant communities about their workplace rights, and our agency’s services and programs. We frequently conduct outreach with other groups that work in immigrant communities, including:
- Advocacy Groups
- Community-based organizations
- Social services providers
- Faith-based groups
- Elected officials
- Local, state, and federal government agencies
- Foreign government representatives
We use our “Labor on Wheels” van to visit areas where large groups of immigrants live or work. The van helps us bring information to people who are not able to visit a Department of Labor office because of distance or time. In 2010, we made more than 200 outreach visits and gave out materials in English and 20 other languages. We used the Labor on Wheels van to make many of those visits.
DIPA is the first point of contact for those who have questions or concerns about immigrant workers, job seekers, and others. We:
- Connect them with the correct agency program or division
- Make referrals to other organizations
- Answer questions on our toll-free worker hotline, 1-877-466-9757
We also conduct outreach to immigrant business owners about employment laws. Immigrant and limited English proficient employers face challenges understanding their legal responsibilities. We invite them to employer seminars where they learn about employment laws, as well as programs and resources that can help their businesses grow.
Policies and Laws
DIPA makes sure our agency’s services meet the needs of immigrants. We review our programs and procedures in depth. We also make sure they are accessible and effective.
Immigrant Workforce Project
One result of our work is the Immigrant Workforce Project (IWP). The IWP aims to connect immigrant and limited English proficient job seekers with the New York State Career Center system. It also strives to improve and expand the employment services available to them.
DIPA also leads efforts on a statewide policy of agency accessibility by limited English proficient (LEP) individuals. The goal of such a policy is to ensure that all individuals who interact with the Department of Labor, including those with limited English proficiency, gain meaningful access to programs and services. Speaking with DOL representatives and reading DOL forms and publications is a challenge for much of the state’s immigrant population. A statewide LEP policy will ease their access to, and their use of, the vital resources of the Department of Labor by mandating translation and interpreting services where and how they are needed.
Those who feel that we have not provided adequate interpretation services, or have denied them access to an available translated document, may submit a complaint form to give us their feedback.
Foreign Labor Certification
The foreign labor certification program permits U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary or permanent basis to fill jobs, including agricultural (H-2A) and non-agricultural (H-2B). An employer can obtain certification where there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers available and willing to perform the work at the prevailing wages for that type of work. The Department of Labor assists New York employers by processing job orders for the H-2A and H-2B temporary labor programs. The H-2A agricultural program enables agricultural employers to bring foreign workers to New York to perform agricultural or seasonal labor. The H-2B non-agricultural program enables employers to bring foreign workers to New York to perform work on a one-time, seasonal, peak-load, or intermittent basis
DIPA processes job orders for these programs, which employers then submit as part of an application to the U.S. Department of Labor. Once approved, employers receive temporary visas for foreign workers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In this way, the Department of Labor assures that there are enough workers for certain types of jobs in New York without adversely affecting the opportunities, wages, or working conditions of U.S. workers.
Compliance on Farms
Agriculture is one of the leading industries in New York State. It employs 40,000 to 80,000 farm workers every year (including domestic, guest worker, year-round, migrant and seasonal farm workers). Immigrant farm workers grow, harvest and distribute a full range of products – from fruits and vegetables to greenhouse, dairy and more.
DIPA’s State Monitor Advocate helps make sure that farm workers work in good conditions and receive fair pay. The Monitor Advocate:
- Manages the state’s rural program
- Works closely with the Foreign Labor Certification office
- Oversees statewide compliance with relevant labor laws
DIPA staff visit farms to inform workers of their rights. They also teach farmers about their responsibility under state and federal laws. Our goal is to make sure that New York’s large and diverse agriculture industry thrives as it follows rules that protect worker rights, safety, and dignity.
Immigrant Crime Victims
“Labor trafficking,” also known as “modern slavery,” is an umbrella term for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service. This compelled service can be called many things depending on the particular situation, including involuntary servitude, slavery, debt bondage, and forced labor. Trafficking victims are brought into the country from all over the world and forced to work, usually under threat of violence.
Both the federal government and the New York State government have passed laws that criminalize trafficking and provide services for trafficking victims. DIPA is a member of various anti-trafficking coalitions intended to educate the public about what trafficking is and how to identify trafficking victims, advocate for appropriate services for trafficking victims and their families, and respond effectively to concerns raised by community organizations which work directly with trafficking victims.
The U visa is a federal visa that provides legal status to victims of certain serious crimes who have suffered substantial physical or mental harm and have cooperated with law enforcement. Many immigrants are wary of reporting crimes, even violent crimes, because they fear interactions with law enforcement. The U visa is intended to encourage immigrant crime victims to report crimes and cooperate with law enforcement by removing the fear barrier that prevents immigrants from coming forward.
As part of a U visa application, the immigrant applicant must submit certification from a qualified local, state, or federal law enforcement agency with which the immigrant is cooperating in the investigation or prosecution of a crime. The New York State Department of Labor is a qualified certifying agency, and within it DIPA is responsible for evaluating certification applications. Early in 2011, DIPA issued a Certification Protocol outlining the factors to be considered in response to certification requests.
Questions about U visa certification requests can be sent to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the feedback! It will help us improve your experience.