If you have been brought to the US with false promises of a better future or against your will, knowing what the T visa requirements are for the United States could help you in this scenario. In this blog, you learn everything about the T visa and how you can be eligible nowadays.
Our Los Angeles immigration lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience dealing with the different types of American visas. Call now and we can tell you what options are available for your specific case.
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What are the requirements And everything you should know About The United States T Visa In 2024
The T nonimmigrant visa is issued to alien nationals who have been victims of human trafficking in order to stay in the US for a few years. Of course, as long as they have helped law enforcement officers against acts of human trafficking.
The US Congress approved this visa in 2000, as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. T visas not only offer protection to victims, they also strengthen law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute acts of human trafficking.
Another form of immigration relief that you may be eligible for is asylum in the USA. To do so, you must have been persecuted in your country of origin for racial, political or religious reasons or belonging to a particular social group.
Trafficking Under United States Federal Law
There are two severe forms of human trafficking under US federal law, these are:
- Sex trafficking: When someone sponsors, solicits, obtains, recruits, provides, harbors, or transports an alien for the purpose of a commercial sex act by force, coercion, or fraud;
- Labor trafficking: When someone sponsors, recruits, procures, transports, or harbors an individual to perform labor or services of peonage, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery, through force, coercion, or fraud.
Have you been a victim of or accused of violent crimes or sexual crimes in the US and don’t know who to ask for help or where to go? Do not hesitate to contact us, our immigration lawyers are also criminal lawyers in Los Angeles willing to offer the best defense possible.
T Visa Benefits
Among the benefits that individuals obtain by having their T visa approved we find the following:
- Being able to stay in the United States for a maximum of 4 years;
- Have the possibility of adjusting status to permanent resident and obtaining a Green Card;
- Obtaining an Employment Authorization Document (EAD);
- Derivative family members may be eligible to file a Form I-765, application for employment authorization;
- Victims of human trafficking may be certified to receive certain federal benefits. For example, housing assistance, food, income, health and English courses.
Can I Travel Outside The US After My T Visa Is Approved?
It is essential that you speak with our immigration attorney before you even think about traveling outside the United States after becoming a T visa holder. Among the most common problems that you may have if you travel outside the country, are the following:
- When you are approved for the T visa, you will not automatically receive the physical visa (which is necessary to travel). Therefore, if you leave the US, you will not be able to re-enter unless you apply from a consulate;
- If you are outside the US for more than 90 days, or for more than 180 days in package tours, you may be denied lawful permanent residence;
- Once you receive T status, if you return to the US on another type of visa (such as a US tourist visa) or enter the country without permission, USCIS can take away your T visa;
- If you have T status and have already submitted an application for lawful permanent residence that is still in process, you must apply for what is known as “advance parole” before leaving the US. If you do not do so, USCIS will assume that you have abandoned your lawful permanent residence application;
- If you leave the US and then return, you may raise certain grounds of inadmissibility that you previously did not have to deal with.
How Do You Qualify For The T Visa In 2024?
The following are the current requirements of the T visa:
- You have been the victim of some severe form of human trafficking;
- Due to human trafficking, you are in one of the following territories: the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry to these places;
- You have evidence that you may suffer extreme hardship related to extraordinary and serious personal injury if you leave the US;
- Comply with all reasonable requests for assistance from law enforcement agencies in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. The exception is if you are under 18 years of age or unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma;
- You are admissible to the United States.
Note: If you are inadmissible to the US, you may request a waiver of some of the grounds of inadmissibility by filing Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant. Check the waiver of inadmissibility section on our website.
Examples Of Human Trafficking
An example of human trafficking is when certain alien nationals are recruited as babysitters and brought to the US under deception.
- Typically, victims are promised legal work papers and upon arrival have their passports taken away and are forced to work in the world of prostitution.
- Sometimes the pay is usually minimal and other times they get no remuneration at all.
If you want to learn everything about California prostitution laws, we invite you to read our article dedicated to the subject.
Another example is that of children brought to the United States by their parents or relatives for sexual exploitation. Minors are brought into the country under false pretenses to later be used in child pornography.
Lewd acts with a child are heavily punished in Los Angeles and the rest of California. Review our dedicated article to understand the penalties that can be faced by those who incite or make use of this practice.
How Do I Get A T Visa In 2024?
Now that you know who qualifies for the T visa, it’s time to learn about the process for obtaining T nonimmigrant status. To do this, immigrants must submit the following to USCIS:
- Completed Form I-914 , Application for T Nonimmigrant Status;
- Evidence that you meet the T visa eligibility requirements;
- Evidence showing that you complied with requests for help from the authorities. You may file Form I-914, Supplement B (PDF), Statement by a Law Enforcement Officer for Victims of Trafficking, or instead or in addition to the following:
- Court documents;
- Police reports;
- Press articles;
- Transcripts of a trial;
- Other evidence that is credible and relevant.
- If inadmissible, file Form I-192.
Application For A Derivative T Visa By Family Members
Qualifying family members applying for a derivative T-Visa must complete Form I-914, Supplement A (PDF), Application for an Immediate Relative of a T-1 Visa Beneficiary.
- Victims under the age of 21 can apply for a derivative visa for parents, spouse, and unmarried siblings under the age of 18.
- Victims over the age of 21 can apply for a spouse and child visa.
What Visas Are Available For Dependents Of Victims Of Human Trafficking?
Derivative visas intended for dependents and relatives of the T visa holders are the following:
- T-2. Spouse of the T-1 visa holder. The US only recognizes marriages that can be proven by a valid marriage certificate and does not accept multiple marriages;
- T-3. Children of the T-1 visa holder, which can be demonstrated through a valid birth certificate;
- T-4. Parents of the T-1 status holder;
- T-5. Unmarried siblings under the age of 18 of the T-1 holder.
Similarities Between T Visas And U Visas
There are some important similarities between both visas:
- They allow holders to apply for derivative visas for some family members;
- It allows holders and their derivative relatives who qualify, to apply for adjustment of status to permanent resident;
- Applicants have less to worry about on grounds of inadmissibility than other visa applicants. In some cases, they could apply for a waiver of inadmissibility;
- Both visas have a number cap, with U visas capped at 10,000 per year and T visas at 5,000 (not counting family members).
In our article “What is the U visa” you can find extensive information about this other visa more focused on victims of certain crimes.
How Much Does It Cost To Apply For The T Visa In 2024?
The basic T visa application forms; I-914 and Supplements A or B, have no cost. However, there are some significant costs to the applicants and their family:
- $930 for Form I-192 (if required), and;
- $410 for each family member who wants a work permit.
In addition, you may be able to request a fee waiver for other forms, such as I-765, I-485, I-192, or I-131.
For futher information, review the additional guides at USCIS on how to apply for a fee waiver.
How To Apply For A Green Card With A T Visa?
To switch from a T visa to a Green Card, you must meet certain requirements. Firstly, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Additionally, you must have been lawfully admitted to the US as a T nonimmigrant and continue to have such status at the time you apply for the Green Card.
To qualify for adjustment of status with the T visa, you must meet the following conditions:
- Be physically present in the US for at least 3 continuous years in T status, or;
- After a continuous period of investigation or prosecution of trafficking activities, certified as completed by an Attorney General;
- Have good moral character during your stay in the US;
- You are admissible to the US or can obtain a waiver of inadmissibility;
- Having complied with all reasonable requests for assistance from law enforcement agencies in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking activities, or;
- You have demonstrated extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you leave the US, or;
- You are under 18 years of age at the time you apply.
Where Do I Send The Application For The T Visa?
According to the instructions indicated on the I-914 form, you can send the T visa application to:
Vermont Service Center
38 River Road
Essex Junction, VT 05479-0001
If you do not feel safe receiving correspondence from USCIS at your home, you may be able to include a new safe address on the application. To change your address, check the USCIS Address Changes site.
What Are The Federal Benefits Available To Me With The T Visa?
After learning the requirements and having obtained a T visa, you may be eligible for a host of federally funded benefits and human services. If you do not yet have a T visa but are a victim of human trafficking, you may also be eligible for these benefits if:
- You have been given a certification or eligibility letter by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) , or;
- You have been granted continuous presence by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (PDF).
Are you nervous about ICE showing up at your doorstep? Don’t worry! Visit our article dedicated to how to act if ICE agents show up at your door and you will know what to do in these cases.
- Medicaid. It is a health insurance program funded by the US government focused on people with limited resources and low income;
- Treatment program for torture. Provides HHS-funded legal, psychological, social, and health services for victims of torture;
- State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). It is a public health insurance program available to children under the age of 18 without health insurance who are not eligible for Medicaid.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Provides assistance and employment opportunities to families in need with children under 18 years of age;
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Provides benefits for individuals with severe disabilities (such as blindness) or who are at least 65 years old and have low income or limited resources;
- Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance (RCA & RMA). For individuals who are not eligible for TANF, SSI, and Medicaid;
- Matching Grants Program. Provides economic assistance for refugees in America, offering employment, housing assistance (food, food subsidies, transportation) and a monthly payment;
- Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Provides nutritional and educational assistance to pregnant women and families with children under 5 years of age;
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Provides food stamps similar to cash to pay for food in the vast majority of US supermarkets.
Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program. Provides substitute care and resettlement services for refugee and unaccompanied minor trafficking victims.
Victims of human trafficking may be entitled to public housing assistance.
Comprehensive Career Center System. They offer information and help in finding a job and receiving education or training.
Specific programs by the state. Each state may have additional programs for victims of human trafficking.
What Do I Need To Do To Receive The Federal Benefits To Which I Am Entitled?
If you are 18 years of age or older, HHS may certify you for certain federally funded benefits. There is a certification available for victims of trafficking, as defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Law. To do this, you must:
- File an application for the T visa in good faith, or;
- Have received continuous presence status from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
If the victims are children, they will automatically receive benefits once HHS obtains the necessary evidence to show that the children were victims of human trafficking.
Frequently Asked Questions About The T Visa Requirements
The processing time of the T visa in 2024 varies between each individual and is done based on the evidence submitted. Also, USCIS does not give an estimate of the time it takes to process this visa.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude. So yes, human trafficking is illegal.
If you believe you have been a victim of human trafficking, contact law enforcement immediately. To report a suspicion of this, please call 1-888-373-7888 or contact our office directly.
If you apply for a Green Card and obtain lawful permanent residence, you may be able to become a US citizen over the years .
The T visa regulations are designed so that up to a maximum of 5,000 T visas are issued per fiscal year. If there are more valid applications than this limit, it is up to USCIS discretion how to act. They may suspend applications or grant an EAD for you to be able to work. When the T visa becomes available again, it can be granted.
Experienced Lawyers For The Processing Of The T Visa
Now that you know the T visa requirements is and how you can qualify for one, know that there are experts ready to help you. The crime of human trafficking is extremely serious. Don’t let your status stop you from seeking legal help.
Eligibility for a T visa could be your path to a safe life in the US. Remember that the main purpose of the T visa is to provide humanitarian assistance to victims of human trafficking in the US. Therefore, do not risk your future by submitting an application on your own, as the slightest mistake can cause a delay in its processing or its total rejection.
Our expert immigration lawyers at Lluis Law will be happy to advise you on your options to follow. Contact us today so we can discuss your case and determine your options.
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