Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu

Assisting the Victims of Human Trafficking: The World of T-Visa

T Visa

Assisting the Victims of Human Trafficking: The World of T-Visa 

Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a crime committed by a trafficker who compels and coerces an individual to provide labor or services, or to engage in commercial sex. Traffickers often take advantage of persons who are in vulnerable positions, including the ones who lack immigration status, have limited economic and education opportunities, indigent, etc. T nonimmigrant status, also known as the T Visa, is a visa designed to provide immigration status to individuals who are currently in the United States as a result of human trafficking. It was created by the Congress in October 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, which was the first federal law to address trafficking in persons. T Visa serves as a protection to victims of human trafficking, allowing them to remain in the United States temporarily for an initial period of up to four years. Implementing the three-pronged approach of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, T Visa seeks to assist the victims of human trafficking from escaping exploitation, seeking protection, and eventually starting a new and stable life in the United States. Under federal law, a “severe form of trafficking in persons” is: 

  • Sex trafficking: When an individual recruits, harbors, transports, provides, solicits, patronizes, or obtains a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where the commercial sex act is induced by fraud, force, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under the age of 18; or 
  • Labor trafficking: When an individual recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains a person for labor or services using force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. 

T Visa Eligibility Requirements 

An individual may be eligible for T nonimmigrant status if he or she: 

  1. Is a Victim of Human Trafficking – Are or were a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, as defined by federal law; 
  1. Has Physical Presence in the United States – Are physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking; 
  1. Has Complied with the Law Enforcement – Have complied with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (unless you were under the age of 18 at the time at least one of the acts of trafficking occurred or you are unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma; if either case applies, you may not need to show that you complied with reasonable requests from law enforcement); 
  1. Exhibits Future Extreme Hardship – Show that you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the United States; and 
  1. Is Admissible to the United States – If you are not admissible, you may be eligible for a waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility. You may apply for a waiver using a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant. 

How to Apply for T Visa 

There is no fee to file a T Visa application. To apply for T nonimmigrant status, the victim must submit: 

  1. Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, along with personal statement describing the trafficking the victim is or was subjected to; 
  1. Evidence establishing that the victim has complied with the law enforcement, or that the victim qualifies for an exception or exemption. The victim may also submit Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons, or other evidence such as communication with law enforcement, trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, news articles, affidavits, or other relevant credible evidence; 
  1. Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, or evidence that demonstrates the victim’s admissibility; and 
  1. Evidence that shows the victim meets all other eligibility requirements. 

At this time, all T Visa applications are processed at the Vermont Service Center (USCIS Vermont Service Center 38 River Rd. Essex Junction, VT 05479-0001). 

Safe Address and Confidentiality Protections 

The applicant may include a safe address on their application under the mailing address field if they do not wish to receive mail from USCIS at their home address. Furthermore, any information about the applicant and any information that is disclosed in the applicant’s application are strictly confidential. The Department of Homeland Security is not going to deny the applicant’s application solely on evidence provided by the trafficker. 

Qualifying Family Members 

If the applicant wishes to include their family members on their T Visa application, they may look at the eligibility requirements for qualifying family members of the applicant. Family members may be eligible if they are in present danger of relation because of the applicant’s escape from trafficking or cooperate with law enforcement. Family members generally include parents, unmarried siblings under 18 years of age, and children of any age or marital status of a qualifying family member who have been granted derivative T nonimmigrant status.  

USCIS further offers other options if a family member is not in present danger of retaliation. This includes: 

  • For applicants under 21 years of age: They may apply for their spouse, unmarried children who are under 21 years of age, parents, and unmarried siblings who are under 19 years of age. 
  • For applicants of 21 years of age and above: They may apply for their spouse and unmarried children who are 21 years of age. 

In applying for a qualifying family member, the applicant must file Form I-914, Supplement A, Application for Family Member of T-1 Recipient. This application may be filed at the same time as the applicant’s Form I-914, or while their application is pending, or while the applicant is in T nonimmigrant status. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Do I need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization? Whether to file 

A: I-765 depends on whether the applicant is a principal applicant or qualifying family member. For principal applicants, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is provided by the USCIS, along with approving your Form I-914 application. On the other hand, qualifying family members included as a qualifying member on Form I-914, Supplement A, and are living in the United States, must submit Form I-765 if they wish to apply for an EAD. Filing I-765 together with Form I-914, Supplement A, or later, is also permissible. 

Q: What happens after I obtain my T Nonimmigrant status?  

A: T Nonimmigrant status is generally granted for 4 years. If the individual wishes to extend their T nonimmigrant status, they may be able to file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Furthermore, T nonimmigrants are also eligible for lawful permanent residence (a Green Card) if they have continuous physical presence in the United States for at least 3 years since they were first lawfully admitted as T nonimmigrants, or after continuous physical presence in the United States during the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking. 

Q: How do I maintain continuous physical presence?  

A: T immigrants applying for a green card who wish to maintain continuous physical presence cannot be outside of the United States for more than 90 days at a time or for any periods that add up to more than 180 days, unless they can demonstrate that the absence was necessary as to assist an investigation or prosecution of the acts of trafficking, or an official involved in the investigation or prosecution of the acts of trafficking certifies that the absence was justified. 

Q: What form do I file as a T immigrant when applying for a green card?  

A: T immigrants who wish to acquire a green card must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 

Q: Am I eligible for benefits as a T immigrant?  

A: Yes, T immigrants are eligible for several federally funded benefits and services. 

If you have any questions about TPS work authorization and how to apply, you should meet with our New York immigration attorney to go over these options and discuss which might be the better fit for you, given your situation and other various factors. 

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

© 2020 - 2024 Prizant Law. All rights reserved.