Have you been a victim of human trafficking?
T visas are available to victims of human trafficking that are in the United States and are willing to assist with the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers make false promises of employment and a better life in exchange for money or work. 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.
Trafficking has many different forms. Even if you chose to come to the US or chose to take a job, you could still be a victim of trafficking. You may not realize that you have been a victim of trafficking. Some signs of trafficking may include: little or no pay, being forced to pay off a debt through work or sex, threats of violence, threats of reporting you to immigration or other law enforcement, control over your living conditions, communication, and identity documents.
Eligibility for T visas
You may be eligible for a T visa if:
- You have been a victim of human trafficking,
- You are physically present in the U.S.,
- You would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the U.S.,
- You comply with any reasonable request from law enforcement for assistance in investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.
n addition to the above requirements, you must also be admissible to the United States. “Admissibility” is an immigration term that has many factors, including criminal history, immigration violations, health, et cetera. If you are not admissible, you may be eligible for a waiver. Please consult a lawyer before applying for a T visa or any waiver and to see if you are “admissible.”
You must report the trafficking information to a state, federal, or law enforcement agency. You can ask that the agency give you a certification that you were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the crime. A certification is a form that the agency can fill out, it is very helpful for your case, but it is not required.
Massachusetts has a law that says that all agencies must have a policy for T visa certification requests and must respond to your request for a certification within 90 days, with limited exceptions. For more information, see this handbook for certifying agencies.
What about my family members?
Someone over the age of 21 may also apply for their spouse and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) through the T visa process.
Someone under the age of 21 may also apply for their spouse, children (unmarried and under the age of 21), parents, and unmarried siblings under age 18.
Path to lawful permanent residence (green card)
T visa holders may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (green cards), if they meet certain requirements.
You may be eligible for a green card if:
- You have been physically present in the United States for either:
- A continuous period of 3 years since receiving your T visa, or
- A continuous period until the investigation or prosecution is complete, whichever period of time is less.
- You have been a person of good moral character,
- You have complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking,
- You would suffer extreme hardship upon removal from the United States,
- You are admissible to the United States as a permanent resident,
- You have been a T visa holder for at least 3 years.
Your family members may also be eligible for green cards if they received T status through your application.