In October 2000, Congress enacted the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act, which provided for a “T visa” to protect victims of human trafficking and pursue prosecution of traffickers. A T visa holder may lawfully remain in the United States, receive employment authorization, and obtain the same public benefits available to refugees. After three years in T nonimmigrant status, a person may apply for lawful permanent residence (also known as “LPR,” obtaining a “green card, or “adjustment of status”) and a pathway to U.S. citizenship. There are also provisions to grant T nonimmigrant and permanent residence status to certain spouses, children, and parents of T nonimmigrants.
The term is not explicitly defined, but rather, the phrase “severe form of trafficking in persons” describes “human trafficking” as:
a. sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform the act is under 18 years of age, or
b. the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
To be eligible for a T visa, the applicant must demonstrate that he or she is:
1) The victim of a “severe form of trafficking in persons;”
2) Physically present in the United States, or its outlying territories, or at a port of entry on account of the trafficking;
3) Complying with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking, unless under 18 years of age, in which case compliance in not a requirement; and
4) Suffering or will suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the United States.
The following chart lists the elements that need to be present in adult labor trafficking cases to qualify for a “severe form of trafficking” in persons:
You can apply for a T visa by submitting the following documents and evidence to the Vermont Service Center at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services:
1) Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status (no fee required);
2) Form I-912 (if applicable);
3) Either primary or secondary evidence (i.e., submitting primary evidence is not required; secondary evidence is sufficient):
1) A Form I-914 Supplement B obtained from a law enforcement agency; or
2) Evidence that the applicant has been granted continued presence under 28 CFR § 1100.35.60
1) The applicant’s statement that he or she was a “victim of a severe form of human trafficking;” and
2) Any evidence showing the case is credible and that the place and people described are real such as:
T visa recipients are allowed to apply for green cards three years from the date of approval, or sooner if able to obtain a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice demonstrating compliance with the completed criminal case. Without this compliance letter, adjusting status early is not possible. Further, you must either apply to extend your T nonimmigrant status or apply for adjustment of status to obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR) before your T visa expires, or you risk losing status.
For T visa recipients to be eligible to adjust to LPR status, the applicant must demonstrate:
1) Admission and current T nonimmigrant status;
2) Continuous physical presence for three years (can be less if an investigation or prosecution is complete, which exempts any absence less than 90 days or 180 days in the aggregate);
3) Good moral character during your continuous physical presence;
4) Compliance with any reasonable request for assistance during continuous presence or a showing that you would suffer extreme hardship upon removal; and
5) Admissibility or an approved waiver of any applicable grounds of inadmissibility.
Yes, if you apply for T-1 nonimmigrant status, then your “immediate family members” may be included in your application as derivative beneficiaries. Further, the relationship must exist at the time of filing the T visa application. However, a family member that was involved in the trafficking scheme cannot apply for derivative status. The following chart outlines the family members that may qualify as derivative beneficiaries:
If you’re over 21, you may apply for:
If you’re under 21, you may apply for:
If you’re any age, and if your family member faces present danger of retaliation from your trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement:
No, unlike the U visa, you must apply from for a T visa within the United States. As mentioned above, physical presence in the United States is required at the time the T visa application is filed
No, but an experienced immigration lawyer can provide critical assistance. A lawyer will analyze whether any inadmissibility issues apply and help you with the waiver requires.
Further, a lawyer will help you prepare the best strategy to obtain the best outcome in your case – an approved T visa. Additionally, a lawyer will facilitate the complexities of proving the evidentiary requirements. For example, as explained above, three elements must be present in adult trafficking cases to qualify for a “severe form of trafficking” in persons. However, the standard is different for sex trafficking cases involving minors under the age of 18. Without a careful understanding of the law, a person, may overlook these requirements, which could be buried in the statute, regulations, or memoranda issued by the government.