A T visa is a type of visa allowing certain victims of human trafficking and immediate family members to remain and work temporarily in the United States if they agree to assist law enforcement in testifying against the perpetrators.
In 2000, the U.S. Congress created the T nonimmigrant status through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The purpose of the law was to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute human trafficking, and also offer protection to victims. Human trafficking 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 services. The T Nonimmigrant Status, or T Visa, is set aside for those who are or have been victims of human trafficking, protects victims of human trafficking and allows victims to remain in the United States to assist in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.
T Visas are available to people who fall under these criteria:
- came to the United States illegally to engage in commercial sex work, involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery
- committed commercial sex acts or agreed to come to the United States as a result of force, fraud, or coercion
- would suffer extreme hardship if deported
- report their trafficking crime to federal authorities and, if at least 15 years old, help with investigations and prosecutions. With the 2006 modification, the required compliance with law enforcement was deemed not fit if the victim would undergo any increased trauma. This is better known as the “trauma exception”.
- must include an endorsement from a law enforcement agency included in the T-1 visa application (if the agency chooses to not include an endorsement, the victim must provide sufficient secondary evidence)
In order to be eligible for a T visa the applicant must demonstrate unusual or severe harm if they were to be removed from the United States. This includes:
- Age and personal circumstances of the T visa applicant.
- Serious physical or mental illness of the T Visa applicant of which they will be unable to receive treatment in their home country.
- Likelihood of re-victimization.
- Reasonable expectation of punishment upon applicants return to home country.
- Likelihood of harm by traffickers or related individuals upon return.
The T nonimmigrant status is a nonimmigrant (temporary) status that allows non-citizen victims to stay in the United States, obtain employment authorization, and apply for lawful permanent resident status. Immediate family members also qualify.
The duration of the T nonimmigrant status is for up to four years. However, this period may be extended in certain situations. And, after time, T nonimmigrant may adjust status to obtain lawful permanent residence (Green Card).
To stay updated on current USCIS issues or for more information on the T Visa, please visit Central Florida’s full service immigration firm at www.OrlandoVisa.com, or call us at (407) 648-5742.