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Questions and Answers: Victims of Human Trafficking and T Nonimmigrant Status

All text below reproduced from USCIS website

Introduction and Background

T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa) is set aside for those who are or have been victims of human trafficking and are willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking.  Below are Questions and Answers pertaining to T nonimmigrant status. 

In October 2000, Congress created the T nonimmigrant status by passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA). The legislation strengthens the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute human trafficking and also offer protection to victims.

What Is human trafficking?

Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers lure individuals with false promises of employment and a better life. Traffickers often take advantage of poor, unemployed individuals who lack access to social safety nets. The T nonimmigrant visa allows victims to remain in the United States to assist federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases. 

To consider a situation "trafficking" depends on the type of work, and the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain or maintain work.

Under federal law, the term “severe forms of trafficking” can be broken into two categories:

• Sex trafficking: 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: 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.

Do federal laws prohibit trafficking in persons?

 Yes. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude (holding another in service through force or threats of force). The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) supplements existing laws that apply to human trafficking, including those passed to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment. The VTVPA also establishes new tools and resources to combat trafficking in persons and provides an array of services and protections for victims of severe forms of trafficking.

Is there any immigration relief available for a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons?

Yes. Victims of severe forms of human trafficking are eligible for a T nonimmigrant status (T visa). The T nonimmigrant visa allows victims to remain in the United States to assist in the investigation or prosecution of human traffickers. Once a T nonimmigrant visa is granted, a victim can apply for permanent residence after three years.

How do you become eligible for T nonimmigrant status?

 To qualify for T nonimmigrant status you must:

  • Be or have been a victim of severe trafficking in persons.
  • Be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry on account of trafficking.
  • Comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.
  • Demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship involving severe and unusual harm if you were removed from the United States. 

If under the age of 18 at the time of the victimization, or if you are unable to cooperate with a law enforcement request due to physical or psychological trauma, you may qualify for the T nonimmigrant visa without having to assist in investigation or prosecution.

You must also be admissible to the United States or obtain a waiver of admissibility.

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