T Visa: For Victims of Human Trafficking Assisting Law Enforcement
How people who have been crime victims and are helping U.S. police and other authorities can attain a T visa, leading to a green card.
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 provided new hope for immigrants who are victims of crimes, making it possible for victims to attain temporary legal status.
Both the T-visa and the U-visa are designed to provide immigration status to noncitizens who are assisting or are willing to assist authorities in the investigation of certain crimes. This article discusses the purpose and process of obtaining a T-visa.
Purpose of the T Visa
In order to address the issue of human trafficking, Congress has granted temporary legal status to immigrants who are victims of trafficking in persons. Human trafficking is recognized as a form of modern-day slavery. Traffickers use techniques, such as force, fraud, coercion, or false promises of employment and a better life, to lure victims into situations of forced labor or sex. All too often, traffickers prey on the poor or unemployed individuals who lack access to social services.
The T visa gives temporary legal status to immigrant victims, protecting victims of human trafficking and allowing them to remain in the United States to assist in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. At the same time, the T visa makes it possible for law enforcement officers to better perform their duties. With the help of immigrant trafficking victims, officers have a greater ability to investigate and prosecute individuals charged with or suspected of human trafficking.
Process for Filing for T Visa
To determine eligibility for T visa nonimmigrant status, the victim must:
- be a victim of trafficking, as defined by law
- be 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, and
- demonstrate extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the United States.
In order to apply for a T Visa, the immigrant victim must file Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application must be accompanied by three passport-style photographs. It must include a statement in the applicant’s own words explaining how s/he was a victim of trafficking. It is also strongly suggested that the applicant submit the Supplement B to Form I-914 - Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons, to show evidence of the trafficking crime and law enforcement agency support. Applicants may also submit other evidence to show compliance with requests for assistance by criminal justice personnel. Such evidence may include trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, news articles, and affidavits.
If the immigrant is under 21 years of age, he or she may apply on behalf of a spouse, children, parents, and unmarried siblings under age 18. If 21 years of age or older, the immigrant victim may apply on behalf of a spouse and children.
There is no fee to file a Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status. Applicants may be eligible for a fee waiver for other forms associated with filing Form I-914.
A limit of 5,000 T Visas can be issued each year.
Eligibility to work in the U.S. is granted at the same time as a T Visa.
The T Visa is valid for four years, and after three years, the T Visa holder may be eligible for U.S. permanent residence (a green card).
Unlike the U visa, to be eligible for a T visa, the immigrant victim need not show that he or she suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of specified criminal activity.
It is important to consult a qualified immigration expert who is familiar with the detailed process of submitting an application. For more information on eligibility and the legal requirements for submitting a U Visa or a T Visa, contact an experienced immigration lawyer.