T visas for victims of human trafficking
What is the T visa?
It is a non-immigrant visa for victims of human trafficking. The purpose of this visa category is to help US
law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crimes of human trafficking. It also helps protect
the victims of human trafficking. It is a temporary visa that allows the victims to stay in the US while they
assist US law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting crimes of human trafficking.
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is a type of modern slavery. Human traffickers pose as job recruiters and they lure
foreign nationals with promises of employment in the US. The foreign nationals they lure are poor,
unemployed or uneducated. The foreign nationals are made to work, or they are used for sexual
intercourse and are kept in bondage while in the US. They are often exposed to harm and are kept in
bondage by fear, force, fraud or coercion
What kinds of human trafficking are there?
There are generally two categories of human trafficking activities:
1. Sex trafficking activities are those that involve recruiting, harboring, transporting, or providing
room and board for individuals to engage in sexual intercourse for money. The sex workers are
induced to agree to work as sex workers from fear of force, by fraud or coercion. Selling children
for adoption or for marriage purposes may be a type of sex trafficking.
2. Labor trafficking activities are those that involve recruiting, harboring, transporting or providing
room and board for workers who are induced to work out of fear or force, or because they are
coerced under involuntary servitude or debt bondage.
Why does the US allow for this special type of visa?
The Thirteenth Amendment of the US Constitution abolished and outlawed slavery in the US.
Historically, this stopped the slavery of Africans who were often kidnapped in their homelands, shipped
and sold to slave dealers and plantation owners in the US. Slavery comes in new and modern forms and
the T visa helps in stopping modern forms of slavery.
Who is eligible to apply for an T visa?
Persons may apply for a T visa if they are:
- Victims of human trafficking
- Present in the US because they were trafficked into the US
- They are willing to testify and assist in the investigation and prosecution of human traffickers
- Able to demonstrate that they will suffer harm and hardship if they are removed from the US.
Can a person still apply for a T visa even if they do not wish to assist in the investigation or
prosecution of human traffickers?
Yes, victims of human trafficking who are under the age of 18, and those who have been physically
disabled or traumatized by the trafficking experience that they do not wish to testify or assist in the
investigation or prosecution of human traffickers may still apply for the T visa.
What are the benefits of applying for a T visa?
T visas usually expire after four years. T visa holders can file an application for their spouse and
dependent children to join them in the US. The T visa holder as well as their family members can
work while staying in the US because the approval of the T status grants an Employment
Authorization Document as well. There will be no need to file a separate application for an
employment authorization (Form I-765).
Another benefit is that one year before the T visa expires, the T visa holder may apply for immigrant
status by filing an application for permanent residence (Form I-485). If the investigation or
prosecution that the T visa testified or assisted in has been completed before the three-years are
up, the T-visa holder may obtain a certification from the Attorney General and file the application
for permanent residence earlier.
T visa holders may be certified by the US Department of Health and Human Services and by the
Office of Refugee Resettlement and received federally funded benefits and services.
How can a victim of human trafficking apply for a T visa?
A victim of human trafficking can apply for a T visa by:
- Going to the police or any law enforcement agency
- Executing a statement in their own words of the circumstances of their victimization
- Submit a T non-immigrant status application (Form I-914).
- Submit an endorsement form signed by an official of a law enforcement agency
- Submitting police reports, trial transcripts or other court documents such as arrest reports
or affidavits that attest to your victimization
How can a T visa holder apply for permanent residence in the US?
T visa holders can apply for permanent residence in the US after three years of having been issued a T
visa. T visa holders, however, must prove that:
- They were physically present in the US continuously for three years while holding the T visa
- They were physically present in the US throughout the period of the investigation or
- The Attorney General has certified that the prosecution or investigation has been terminated.
- The Attorney General has certified that they complied with reasonable requests for assistance in
an investigation or prosecution.
- They demonstrated extreme hardship or unusual and severe harm if they were to be removed
from the US.
- They were under 18 years of age when they were victimized by human trafficking.
- They maintained good moral character during their stay in the US (they have not been convicted
of a crime during their three-year stay under the T visa)
Are you a victim of a human trafficking crime? Have you asked for help from local law enforcement? Do
you wish to stay in the US? Do you intend to testify or assist in an investigation or prosecution of human
trafficking? Do you need assistance in filing your T visa or status application? Call or see our
immigration lawyers at Lluis Law. We will treat your communications and correspondences with us with
confidentiality. Call or see us today.