“T” non-immigrant status was created by passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Act (TVPA). This status allows you to qualify for legal status if you are a survivor of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a “modern-day slavery” in which traffickers lure individuals with false promises of employment and a better life. Usually, these traffickers take advantage of poor, unemployed individuals who lack access to social services.
Commonly Asked Questions
The T visa is an immigration benefit for victims of human trafficking who meet certain eligibility requirements.
You may be eligible for a T visa if:
- You are or were a victim of trafficking;
- Are in the United States;
- Comply with reasonable requests from law enforcement in the prosecution of the traffickers; and
- Demonstrate you would suffer extreme hardship if you were removed from the United States.
In addition, the victim must be admissible (based on a review of criminal history, immigration violations, and other factors) to the United States. If inadmissible, the individual may apply for a waiver of inadmissibility for which he or she may be eligible.
The T visa allows eligible victims to temporarily remain and work in the U.S., generally for four years. While in T non-immigrant status, the victim has an ongoing duty to cooperate with law enforcement’s reasonable requests for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. If certain conditions are met, an individual with T non-immigrant status may apply for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status (i.e., apply for a green card in the United States) after three years in the United States or upon completion of the investigation or prosecution, whichever occurs earlier.
Some characteristics of traffickers is that they will either recruit or be an employer who will compel survivors to accept a job through various forms of deception, coercion, or physical force. Traffickers deprive their victims ability to consent by the use of physical force or psychological coercion. Often, the traffickers will keep your passport, and refuse to let you go anywhere alone or threaten to call immigration if you leave.
If you believe you may know someone who is being trafficked contact an attorney. There are many confidential ways to help someone escape trafficking and many organizations that will help.
Certain family members of a T visa recipient may also be eligible to live and work in the United States as “derivative” These include unmarried children, spouse, parents of principal T visa applicants under age 21.
Congress capped the number of available T visas for principal applicants at 5,000 per fiscal year. However, to date, the annual cap has never been reached and visas remain available to applicants who qualify.
The victim has an ongoing duty to cooperate with law enforcement even after they receive the T visa.