The United States Congress approved in 2000 the creation of non-immigrant T visas and U visas. The intention was to support and encourage victims of some serious crimes to cooperate in police investigations.
Both are non-immigrant visas and are supported by the Law on Protection of Victims of Trafficking and Violence. These visas for the USA provide victims of certain crimes considered serious with legal status.
To qualify as the holder of either visa, certain different and separate requirements must be met. Furthermore, its granting may require voluntary cooperation from the police in criminal investigations.
It is important to know what each of these visas is for and who can qualify to receive them. In this article we explain in detail your benefits, requirements for processing and processing times, among other details.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of violence or human trafficking, we can help you. Immigration lawyers in Los Angeles from the office of Lluis Law are experts in all types of immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Call now for a free, no-obligation consultation.
What is the difference between T visas and U visas?
Usually both visas are confused so it is important to know their differences and similarities to apply for them. Both U and T visas consider human trafficking as a qualified crime.
The most notable differences regarding the application of both types of visa are expressed in the following guidelines:
- The type of crime committed against the victim.
- The way the crime occurred (if the person was taken to the USA or not).
- The legal requirements to apply for the visa.
- Presenting evidence of the crime.
- Cooperation with the police and other agencies and their obligation.
To apply for a T visa, the U.S. human trafficking law establishes some guidelines. This law is based on the United Nations Protocol of the year 2000. This crime is defined there for the purposes of its prevention, repression and sanction.
Legally, human trafficking is divided into three categories:
Process. It consists of the recruitment, transfer, transportation, shelter and / or reception of a person.
Forms and means. Refers to threats and activities of coercion, fraud, kidnapping, deceit and abuse of power, among other crimes.
Objective. It is the goal for which the crime is committed; that is, violence and sexual exploitation, prostitution and pornography. It also involves submission to forced labor, involuntary servitude, debt settlement bondage, and slavery.
To qualify for the T visa for human trafficking, adult victims need to demonstrate the presence of at least one element of each category in this crime. In contrast, underage who are victims of this crime only need to demonstrate an element from one of the categories.
Examples of human trafficking
An example of this crime is when foreign people are recruited as babysitters and brought to the USA under deception. They are promised legal work documents and upon arrival they take away their passports and are forced to work as babysitters. Sometimes with little pay and other times even without remuneration.
In addition to blatant deception and abuse of power, the person is subjected to involuntary servitude and forced labor.
Another example is that of children brought to the United States by their parents or relatives for sexual exploitation. Underage are introduced into the country under deception and used later for child pornography purposes.
Legal requirements to apply for the T visa
To be eligible for a T visa, it is essential that the applicant has been trafficked to the United States. In addition, the person must already be present in United States territory as a consequence of human trafficking.
This makes a big difference from the qualification criteria for U visa applicants. There are people who, without having been trafficked to the US, enter the country and are then subjected to human trafficking. An example is due to entering with a tourist visa or a student visa F-1.
The U visa is not only related to human trafficking, other crimes classified by the law as being serious ones qualify too. While the T visa is limited to people who are recruited and brought to the United States under kidnapping or deception. Although the aim is also to subject victims to sexual exploitation or forced labor.
In the crime of human trafficking, it is not necessary to demonstrate that the person did not “know” their fate beforehand. For purposes of crime prosecution and visa application, this aspect does not matter.
There are people who are brought to the United States under deception and then upon arrival they discover that the objective was different. Either to exploit them as cheap or slave labor or directly to prostitute them.
Presenting evidence of the crime
Applicants for T visas are also not required to process a Utility Certification issued by a qualified certifier. In contrast, U visa applicants must.
The U visa certification is a document that establishes that the person:
- Was the victim of a qualified crime.
- Had valuable information related to the crime under investigation.
- Was helpful during the process of investigation or prosecution of such crime.
T visa applicants are encouraged to obtain a statement issued by the police or the prosecution. This is the main evidence to accompany the visa application as victims of human trafficking.
Although not mandatory, the Citizenship and Immigration Services is likely to better consider applications from cooperative individuals. Demonstrating cooperation with the police, the prosecution, and any government agencies will obviously be better valued.
On the other hand, U visa applicants must necessarily show a substantial degree of abuse. While T visa applicants must demonstrate extreme hardship only in case they are rejected.
U visa applicants need to prove having suffered ‘substantial physical or mental abuse’ as a consequence of the crime. In contrast, T visa applicants do not face this requirement. Despite the evidence of physical or mental abuse, they are very convincing pieces of evidence to support the request.
However, T visa applicants do have to demonstrate the ‘extreme hardship’ that their removal from the U.S. would cause. But, ‘unusual and extreme damage’ can be somewhat difficult to prove.
If you had to, you would have to present evidence of the suffering that leaving the U.S will cause due to the following reasons:
- You suffered physical / psychological harm and you need medical treatment that prevents you from leaving the country. Due to lack of adequate medical services or other reasons.
- Your country’s government is unable or unwilling to provide you with protection if you suffer further damage. Nor will it capture or prosecute those guilty of human trafficking.
- If you return, you will be stigmatized after being a victim of trafficking. Something very common when they are female victims subjected to sexual trafficking. Victims have a hard time getting a job or getting married or even being mistreated again.
If you need legal advice to apply for a U visa or a T visa, our lawyers can help you. For more than 40 uninterrupted years we have assisted hundreds of victims on how to get a Green Card.
Cooperation with the police and other agencies
In this regard, there is a slight difference. U visa applicants are required to cooperate in a police investigation. Whereas applicants for a T visa should not reject a request for reasonable cooperation during an investigation.
However, some T visa applicants do not have to cooperate with the police in some circumstances. For example if they are:
- Under 18 years of age, or
- People with a physical / psychological trauma.
Similarities between T visas and U visas
Some of the most important similarities between both visas are the following.
- They allow their holders to request derived visas for some relatives.
- It allows holders and family members who qualify to apply for adjustment of status to that of permanent resident. After completing a certain time and fulfilling the eligibility requirements.
- They have no problems of inadmissibility in the United States like other visa applicants. They may even apply for an inadmissibility waiver using Form I-192. This saves the USCIS demonstration of the “extreme hardships” required for other visa categories.
- Both visas are limited in numbers. U visas have an annual limit of 10,000 and T visas of 5,000 (not counting family members).
What is a type T visa?
It is a temporary non-immigrant visa that is granted to the victim of certain crimes related to human trafficking. Through this visa victims can live and work in the USA for four years. Its objective is to encourage people to collaborate in police investigations or judicial processes for human trafficking.
How do I apply for a T visa?
People who qualify to apply for this visa must submit these requirements to USCIS:
- Complete and submit Form I-914 .
- Explanatory letter (in his own words) where he relates the facts related to his human trafficking case.
- Three passport photos.
- Evidence of eligibility requirements.
Qualifying family members applying for a derived T visa must:
- Complete Form I-914 Supplement A.
- 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 visa for the spouse and children.
The processing of Form I-914 along with the supplements, has no charges.
What are the benefits of T visas?
The most important benefits obtained by people who are granted a T visa are:
- Legally work in the United States. Beneficiaries automatically receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Family members must pay a fee of $ 380 each for the processing of form I-765.
- Victims of adult trafficking may receive a certificate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. This certificate makes them eligible to receive certain federal benefits. For example, housing assistance, food, income, health and English courses.
The requirements for this certification include submitting an application in good faith. In addition, having received continuous presence status from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Underage who have been victims of human trafficking are automatically eligible for these benefits.
What is a U visa?
It is a non-immigrant visa also known as U Status. It is granted to victims of certain physical or mental abuse and, like the T visa, is intended to protect victims of such abuse. At the same time, it encourages them to collaborate with the justice system by providing information or testimonies of crimes.
The objective of the U visa is to support and strengthen the government’s capacity to confront crime. Especially the human trafficking networks and the mafias dedicated to the sexual and labor exploitation of foreigners.
This immigration resource is offered to victims as a relief to their social and legal situation. The only condition is that they are willing to collaborate with the authorities.
What are the benefits of having U visas?
The U visa allows its holders certain benefits that include:
- Live and work legally in the United States together with their immediate relatives.
- Remain legally in the country for four years. The beneficiary must have maintained the status and complied with the visa conditions for a period of three years.
- Apply for adjustment of status to obtain the Green Card or permanent residence card.
Lluis Law’s immigration attorneys also offer legal representation in the Los Angeles Immigration Court. This is why the Latino community recommends and prefers our quality and responsible services.
How long does the U visa process take?
Currently the processing of a U visa is very time consuming. It can take up to five years or more. The main reason for this delay is that there is high congestion at USCIS right now for all visas. The agency has been unable to update recent years of visa applications and they have accumulated to unimaginable levels.
What does it take to qualify for the U visa?
Mainly, having been the victim of any of the aforementioned crimes repeatedly and extremely. Then comply with the following:
- Deliver the collections requested by USCIS for the processing of the visa.
- The crime must have occurred in the United States and constitute a violation of the laws of the country.
- Be eligible to be admitted to the United States or request an exemption using Form I-192.
- Collaborate voluntarily with the police and other government agencies on the case under investigation. To declare, the person must be over 16 years old. On behalf of the victim, his parents and his lawyer can testify and offer information about the crime.
What types of crimes qualify to process a U visa?
The main crimes that justify the processing of a U visa application are:
- Sexual assault or assault with a weapon and stalking.
- Sexual exploitation and pornography (abusive sexual content).
- Blackmail and extortion of the victim.
- Illegal detention, kidnapping.
- Incest and mutilation of female genitalia.
- Fraud and exploitation of foreign workers.
- Involuntary servitude.
- Torture and slavery.
- Domestic violence.
Where do I apply for the U visa and how much does it cost in 2020?
U visa applications along with the accompanying forms must be submitted to the USCIS Service Center in Vermont. The processing of a U visa application is free. Any other request for exemption from payment to process the U visa can be made by filling out Form I-912.
aFor more information and a free consultation to learn more about T visas and U visas, contact us. We can help you with any type of visa, travel permit or advance parole, Cuban Adjustment Act, NACARA law or guide you on what is DACA. Call right now, this is your chance.