- What is a T Visa?
- Who can apply for the T Visa?
- What is “unusual or severe harm” in the case of the T Visa?
- How do you apply for a T Visa?
- What family members qualify for a T-Visa with the applicant?
- Can you apply for Permanent Residence (green card) based on T Status?
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, in which immigrants are brought into a country for forced labor or sexual exploitation. The United States is considered one of the top three worst human trafficking countries in the world along with Mexico and the Philippines. It is estimated that 18-20,000 victims are trafficked in the US every year.
Human trafficking is defined as involuntary servitude, slavery or practices similar to slavery, debt bondage, or forced labor. Human trafficking was made a federal crime in the US in 2000. At that point, the T Visa was created as a part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.
In the United States, there are two kinds of visas to help immigrants suffering from human trafficking, or abuse. The T visa and the U Visa.
The T visa has been developed to stop American slavery in the 21st Century.
1. WHAT IS A T VISA?
The T Visa is one of two visas that can be used to help keep a non-immigrant legally within the United States to help protect them from human trafficking. A T Visa lasts for four years. After 3 years, the applicant may apply for permanent residence (green card). Only 5000 T Visas are issued per year.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A T VISA AND A U VISA?
In the case of a U Visa, the applicant must show substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of a qualifying crime. They would also be expected to cooperate with any law enforcement officials who are investigating and prosecuting the human trafficking crime.
With T Visas the victim will need to show that their removal from the U.S. would cause “extreme hardship involving unusual and extreme harm.” This would include, but is not limited to:
- not being able to meet their medical needs if they are sent out of the United States
- the home country’s government would not protect them from further harm from the trafficking offenders
- they would be stigmatized in the country of origin because of the trafficking
In the case of the T Visa, one would be excused from having to work with law enforcement if under 18, or if unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma.
2. WHO CAN APPLY FOR THE T VISA?
- The T Visa applicant is or was a victim of trafficking as defined by law
- The T Visa applicant may also apply for family members (please scroll down to #4)
- Trafficking is typically either illegal exploitation in Sex trafficking or Labor trafficking
- The T Visa applicant must be in the United States, or at a port of entry because of the trafficking
- The T Visa applicant must comply with any reasonable request from law enforcement agency for assistance in investigation and / or prosecution of the traffickers, unless the immigrant is younger than age 18
- The T Visa applicant must be admissible (see separate article on this topic)
- If there is a problem with eligibility based on being admissible, the T Visa applicant may file a Waiver
3. WHAT IS “UNUSUAL OR SEVERE HARM” IN THE CASE OF THE T VISA?
“Unusual or severe harm” does not include: current or future economic detriment OR lack of social / economic opportunities.
“Unusual or severe harm” does include:
- Age and personal circumstances of the T Visa applicant
- Serious physical or mental illness of the T Visa applicant where treatment is unavailable in home country
- Likelihood of re-victimization
- Reasonable expectation of punishment upon return
- Likelihood of harm by trafficker or related individuals upon return
4. HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR A T VISA?
A T Visa applicant files Form I-914 Application for T Nonimmigrant Status (and Supplement A if applicable) and includes:
- Passport-sized photographs
- A Personal statement
- Evidence to show all other eligibility requirements are met
- (Optional but strongly recommended): Form I-914 Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer – often an FBI agent or US Attorney
- If not submitted, the T Visa applicant must submit a statement explaining her request to obtain a I-914B and why it was refused
5. WHAT FAMILY MEMBERS QUALIFY FOR A T-VISA WITH THE APPLICANT?
If under Age 21, the T Visa applicant may apply for:
- parents and
- unmarried siblings under be 18
If 21 or older, the T Visa applicant may apply for:
- and children
6. CAN YOU APPLY FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE (GREEN CARD) BASED ON T STATUS?
- After either 3 years or a continuous period during investigation and/or prosecution of the traffickers – provided that the government has certified that the case is completed – whichever is less
- The T Visa applicant must maintain good moral character
- The T Visa applicant must comply with any reasonable requests for assistance in investigation and /or prosecution
- The T Visa applicant must be admissible or obtain waiver of inadmissibility