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T Visas for Victims of Human Trafficking - Warren Law Firm

T Visas for Victims of Human Trafficking

T visas can give temporary immigration protection to victims of human trafficking who are not U.S. citizens. T visas offer victims what’s known as “T nonimmigrant status.” 

This status lets victims of human trafficking temporarily stay in the United States. It can provide safety for victims while they seek mental health help, legal help, and much needed peace. Often, it is the first major step victims take toward becoming permanent residents of the United States.

At the same time, T visas also help law enforcement. Granting T visas to victims helps law enforcement investigate and prosecute acts of human trafficking. 

T visas were made by Congress in October 2000 when they passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.

Our team at Warren Law Firm can help you maneuver the complicated path through immigration forms. The process of obtaining T visas can feel overwhelming, so many people in the San Francisco area choose to take advantage of our resourceful and skilled legal team when seeking T nonimmigrant status.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is sometimes known as “trafficking in persons.” It’s a serious crime. Sometimes traffickers use force to overpower their victims. 

Sometimes, though, traffickers make fraudulent promises of a better life or gainful employment to gain control over their victims. Traffickers then make their victims perform sex acts or forced labor.

Who is Eligible for a T Visa?

Through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, noncitizens who are victims of severe forms of human trafficking are eligible for T visas. There are two specific forms of human trafficking that qualify:

  • Sex Trafficking: This type of human trafficking is defined by USCIS as “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of 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.”
  • Labor Trafficking: This type of human trafficking is defined by USCIS as “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of 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.”

Human trafficking victims need to meet certain requirements to be eligible for T visas in addition to being trafficked. 

They also must stay physically present in the United States, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at the port of entry. Plus, the victim must also comply with reasonable requests made by law enforcement. 

Requests that might be made of the victim include assisting in the investigation or prosecution of human traffickers. 

If the victim was under the age of 18 when the crime occurred or if the victim can’t help law enforcement because of psychological trauma or a physical limitation, this requirement can be waived. 

To be eligible for a T visa, the victim also must show that they would suffer extreme hardship or harm if they are removed from the United States. Other requirements also exist, so it’s in a victim’s best interest to have a lawyer by their side through the process.

Some people are eligible for protected status even if they haven’t been victims of trafficking themselves but are in danger because their family member escaped human trafficking. 

Traffickers can use threats against family members to control their victims. Because of this, qualifying family members may also be eligible for T nonimmigrant status.

Additionally, victims under 21-years-old can apply for this protection for their spouses, children, parents and unmarried minor siblings. Victims over 21-years-old can apply for this protection for their spouses and unmarried children under 21. 

To apply for a qualifying family member, the victim needs to file a supplemental form along with their own application.

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What is Needed to Apply for a T Visa?

Your Trusted Partner In The Courtroom - Warren Law FirmTo apply for a T visa, victims must file a Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status. This form is needed to request temporary immigration benefits for victims of severe forms of human trafficking.

A victim’s application must include a personal statement and evidence of the human trafficking they went through. Victims also must include proof that they are physically present in either the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or a port of entry. They will also have to give proof that they were allowed entry to take part in the investigation or prosecution of a trafficker. The victim should include other documents alongside their Form I-914, such as a request for a fee waiver or applications for endangered family members.

Victims are required to provide their full legal name, any other names they have used including nicknames, aliases, and maiden names. In addition to other basic information, victims will need to provide their birthdate and the place of birth, their country of citizenship or their nationality, and their passport information. When applying for a T visa, victims also must list the name of their spouse and the names of any children they have even if they aren’t asking USGIS to consider these family members to be protected as qualifying family members on their applications.

Lastly, USCIS typically has T visa applicants schedule an appointment for biometrics services like fingerprinting and photographing. Victims are often emotionally drained and there are many hoops to jump through for a T visa. That’s why many victims choose to work through the process with an attorney experienced in immigration law.

How Many T Visas Can the United States Grant Each Year?

Federal law limits the numbers of victims granted T visas each fiscal year to 5000. This limit does not include victims’ qualifying family members. While the cap on T visas may seem unreasonable, according to USCIS, the annual limit on T visas has never actually been reached yet.

Is It Legal to Be Employed on a T Visa?

The primary applicants of a T visa are given employment authorization automatically once their T visa is approved. Qualifying family members of the victim must apply for the right to employment in the United States though.

How Long is a T Visa Valid?

A person’s T visa is only valid for up to four years. Sometimes, in special circumstances, people are given a time extension. The hope of many victims is that they will be granted a Green Card after three years on a T visa or once their trafficker has been prosecuted.

Can a T Visa Lead to a Green Card?

People with T visas can sometimes become eligible for a Green Card which gives them permanent resident status in the United States. To be eligible for a Green Card, T visa holders must remain physically present in the country for three years after being admitted as a T nonimmigrant. Another way that a T visa holder can be granted permanent residence is if they stay continuously and physically in the country for the entire time while the trafficking is investigated or prosecuted. Many people seek the help of an attorney for this process too so that they have the best possible chance of being accepted as a permanent resident before their T nonimmigrant status expires.

T Visa Lawyers in the San Francisco Area

Human trafficking is one of the most frightening experiences a person can go through, and immigration forms can be confusing and overwhelming. If you are in the San Francisco area and seeking T nonimmigrant status, moving forward after a T visa, getting a T visa extension, or need legal help with other immigration matters,  contact us today. Warren Law Firm has over 20 years of immigration experience, and we know the ins-and-outs of immigration law.

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over 20 years of experience in asylum, procuring visas for those in need, settling US immigration issues, defending against deportation and advising international businesses. 

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