T-VISAS – Victims of Human Trafficking
Victims of a “severe form of human trafficking” may qualify for a T-Visa, which provides a nonimmigrant temporary status. A beneficiary of a T-Visa can remain in the United States for up to four (4) years. In addition to being a victim, the beneficiary must “ have assisted law enforcement in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.” T-Visa is available to victims and their family members. Once approved, T-Visa is usually granted for four (4) years, and it can be extended in some situations.
Under federal law, a “severe form of trafficking” is:
- Sex trafficking: When someone 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 force, fraud, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age; or
- Labor trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides or obtains a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the T-Visa Eligibility and Requirement?
You may qualify for a T-Visa if:
- Are or were a victim of a severe form of human trafficking as defined above;
- Are in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking;
- Comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (unless you are under the age of 18 or you are unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma. In either case, you may not need to show that you complied with reasonable requests from law enforcement);
- Demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the United States; and
- Are 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).
Would my immediate family qualify?
The family immediately related to the victim (the principal) may qualify for a derivative T visa based on their relationship to the victim filing for the T-visa. For a derivative to apply for a T-Visa, the principal’s application must be approved. You could apply for immediate family members if they are in present danger of retaliation as a result of your escape from trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement.
If the principal is under 21 years of age, then the principal may petition on behalf of their spouse, unmarried children under 21, parents, and unmarried siblings under age 18. If the principal is over 21 years of age or older, unmarried children who are under 21 years old.
Certain qualifying family members may be eligible for T nonimmigrant status. Regardless of your age, you may apply for the following family members if they are in present danger of retaliation as a result of your escape from trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement:
What are the benefits of applying for a T-Visa?
- You would be able to obtain a legal status
- Relief from Deportation
- You will be able to obtain a work authorization
- Once is approved, you can obtain a green card after three (3) years
- You may be eligible for other government benefits.
Can I work while I am applying for a T-Visa? Once you have been granted a T-Visa status, you are eligible to apply for work authorization.
How long does it take to obtain a T-Visa?
The government only has 5,000 visas available every year. Once the numbers have been used, you would be placed on a waiting list. T-Visas are taking up to five (5) years. Once you are on a waiting list, you would just have to wait. There is nothing that can be done to expedite the process. Once you are on a waiting list, you are placed on a deferred action or stay of removal until your visa is available.
What is the process of becoming a permanent resident with a T-Visa?
T nonimmigrant status is generally granted for four (4) years. In certain situations, you may be able to extend your T nonimmigrant status.
Additionally, T nonimmigrants may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (a Green Card) after three (3) years in T nonimmigrant status or once the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking is complete, whichever occurs earlier. For detailed information about the eligibility requirements, see Green Card for a Victim of Trafficking (T Nonimmigrant).
If I am on a waiting list, can I travel outside of the U.S.? No, you cannot travel. Because you do not have any status, if you leave the U.S., you will not be able to return, and you will have to wait outside of the country until the visa is approved.
I am afraid of being deported. Can this happen if I applied for a T-Visa? No, you are granted deferred action and stay of removal.
If I entered the U.S. without inspection (undocumented), do I qualify for a T Visa if I was a victim of a qualifying crime? Yes! If you meet the requirement, you can apply for a T-Visa. You will need a waiver, which you can apply at the same time you file your application. If you are not sure if you qualify, give us a call.
Do I need to cooperate with the police and law enforcement to apply for a T-Visa? The main requirement of this type of visa is that you assist the police or government in apprehending the perpetrator and bring justice. The perpetrator does not need to be found guilty, but you need a qualified official, such as the police department or district attorney, or any official qualified to complete a law enforcement certification. Without that certification, you cannot apply for the visa.
I was a victim of domestic violence; do I qualify for a T-Visa? No. You may be eligible for a U-Visa. However, you could consider applying for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which may allow you to get a status faster. We can review your case and give you an evaluation if you are not sure what is your best option. Give us a call and schedule a consultation to review your particular case. Every case is different.
I was a victim of human trafficking; do I qualify for a U-Visa? Yes, you may be eligible for a U-Visa. However, you could be eligible for a T visa designed for victims of human trafficking. We can review your case and give you an evaluation if you are not sure what is your best option.
Give us a call and schedule a consultation to review your particular case. Every case is different.
I still have questions; can I call you? Of course, we are here to answer all your questions. Give us a call and schedule a consultation to review your case.