Questions and Answers: Victims of Human Trafficking, T Nonimmigrant Status (2024)

Tnonimmigrantstatus (Tvisa) isavailableto noncitizenswho are or have been victims ofa severe form of trafficking in personsandhelp law enforcement in thedetection,investigation,or prosecution of acts of trafficking.  Below are questions and answers about T nonimmigrant status.

Background

In October 2000, Congress created“T” nonimmigrant status by passing theTraffickingVictimsProtection Act (TVPA),part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. TheTVPAstrengthens the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute human trafficking, and also offers immigrationprotection tononcitizenvictims.

Questions and Answers

Q. What Is Human Trafficking?
A.Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a crime in which traffickersmaylure people with false promises of employment and a better life. Trafficking occurs when the trafficker uses force, fraud,or coercion to compel forced labor or a commercial sex act, or when a victim induced to perform commercial sex is under age 18.The Tvisa allows victims to remain in the United States toheal,stabilize,andassistlaw enforcement agenciesin thedetection,investigation,and prosecution of human trafficking cases.

Under federal law, the term “severe forms of traffickingin persons” 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.

Q. Do Federal Laws Prohibit Trafficking In Persons?
A.Yes. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude (holding another in service through force or threats of force.) TheTraffickingVictimsProtection Act (TVPA) supplements existing laws that apply to human trafficking, including those passed to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment. TheTVPA also establishedtools and resources to combat trafficking in persons, and provides an array of services and protections for victims of severe forms of traffickingin persons.

Q. What Should I Do If I Believe I Am A Victim of Trafficking?
A.If you believeyouare or have been a victim of trafficking, you should attempt to contact law enforcement when it is safe to do so.To report suspected human trafficking and receive support and services to get help and information on how to stay safe, call888-373-7888. This is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages. The hotline is operated by Polaris, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization (NGO).

Call the Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) TipLine at 866-347-2423 or submit a tip online atwww.ice.gov/tipsto contact the ICE HSI special agent and victim assistance specialist in your area or to report tips. Highly trained law enforcement specialists are available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to receive human trafficking tips and to quickly disseminate leads to on-duty human trafficking investigators throughout the nation and around the world. Anonymous tips may be reported on the online form and via the toll-free TipLine.

Many social service groups and NGOs may also be able to provide assistance to victims. Explore immigration options available to trafficking victims withalegal services provider or NGO.

Q. WhatForms ofImmigration Relief AreAvailableto Victims of Trafficking?
A.Victims oftraffickingwho meet certain requirementsare eligible foraTvisa.The T visaprovides immigration status tononcitizenvictimsand allows themto remain in the United States to assist in the detection, investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking.Once a Tvisa is granted, a victimmay be eligiblefor permanent residenceif they have beencontinuouslyphysicallypresentin the United Statesfor3yearsafter first being lawfully admitted as a T nonimmigrant, orif they have been continuouslyphysically presentin the United States during theinvestigation or prosecutionof the traffickingand the investigation or prosecution iscomplete, whichever occurs earlier, and if they meet other eligibilityrequirements.For more informationT visas, see the Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status page.

Anotherform ofimmigrationreliefavailable to victims of human trafficking isaUvisa. U visas aregrantedto people who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim ofcertainqualifyingcriminal activity,including human trafficking,and who meet other eligibility requirements.For more information about U Nonimmigrant Status, see the Victims of Criminal Activity, U Nonimmigrant Status page.

Victims of trafficking may also qualify for the temporary immigration designation Continued Presence(CP). For more information about Continued Presence (PDF), see the Continued PresencebrochureandtheContinued Presence Resource Guide.

Q. WhatAre theRequirementsfor T Nonimmigrant Status?
A.To qualify for T nonimmigrant status you mustshow that you:

  • Areor have been a victim ofasevereform oftrafficking in persons;
  • Arephysically present in the United States, American Samoa, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry,because of trafficking;
  • Have compliedwith any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human traffickingor qualify for an exemption or exception; and
  • Would suffer extreme hardship involvingunusual andsevereharm if you were removed from the United States.

If youwereunder the age of 18 whenat least one of the acts of trafficking occurred, or if you are unable to cooperate with a law enforcement request due to physical or psychological trauma, you may qualify forT nonimmigrantstatuswithoutcomplying with a requesttoassistlaw enforcement.

You must also be admissible to the United States or obtain a waiver ofall relevant grounds ofinadmissibility.

Q. Are There Fees That I Must Payto Applyfor the T Visa?
A.All T nonimmigrant status applications (petitions) are fee exempt for all associated forms through adjustment of status. Afterwards, victims may submit a  Request for Fee Waiver, Form I-912 (or by including your own written request for a fee waiver with your application or petition.), for all other forms such as the N-400, Application for Naturalization.

You can find additional filing fee information by visiting our Fee Schedule, Form G-1055, page.

Q. Can My Family Members Also Obtain T Nonimmigrant Status?
A.Yes.Certainfamily members are eligible for derivativeTnonimmigrant status.Regardless of your age, you may apply for the following family members if they are in present danger of retaliation as a result of your escape from trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement:

  • Your parents;
  • Your unmarried siblings under 18 years of age; and
  • The children of any age or marital status of your qualifying family members who have been granted derivative T nonimmigrant status.

If your family members are not in present danger of retaliation, then follow the guidelines in the chart below.

If you are…Then you may apply for your...
Under 21 years old
  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children who are under 21 years old
  • Parents
  • Unmarried siblings who are under 18 years old
21 years old or older
  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children who are under 21 years old

Q. Are There a Limited Number of TVisasThat CanBeGiven Each Year?
A.Yes.  Congress has limited the number of T nonimmigrant visasavailable to principal victims of traffickingto 5,000visas perfiscalyear.Thevictim’squalifyingfamilymembers do not count towards this annual cap.The T visa annual cap has never been reached.

Q. Can I Legally Work in the United Statesif I Have T Nonimmigrant Status?
A.Whether you need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization,depends on whether you are a principal applicant or qualifying family member.

If your application asa principal T-1 nonimmigrantis approved,you are authorized to work. When we grant T-1nonimmigrant statusto a principal applicant, we issue a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization at the same time. The information for the EAD is generated from the Form I-914. There is no need to file a Form I-765, along with the application forT-1nonimmigrant statusif you are the principal applicant.

If you are a qualifying family member of the principal T-1 nonimmigrantresiding in the United States, you must file a Form I-765, to apply for employment authorization and obtain an EAD before you are eligible to work.You may file Form I-765with your Form I-914, Supplement A, or at a later time.If you live outside the United States, you are not eligible to receiveemployment authorizationuntil you are lawfully admitted to the United States. Do not file Form I-765 if you are living outside the United States.

Q. How Long Am I Allowed to Remain in the United States WithT NonimmigrantStatus?
A.T nonimmigrantstatusis valid forup to4years. Extensions are available in certain limited circ*mstances. T nonimmigrantsmay be eligiblefor permanent residence (in other words, for a Green Card) after 3yearsof continuous physical presence in the United States after first being lawfully admitted asa T nonimmigrant, orearlier,incertaincirc*mstances, if they meet additional requirements for adjustment of statusto lawful permanent residence.

Q. How Can I Apply For Permanent Residence (Green Card)?
A. You may apply for permanent residence by submitting Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You must have been lawfully admitted to the United States as a T nonimmigrant and must continue to hold such status at the time of application.

To qualify for permanent residence, you must:

  • Be physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least 3 years in T nonimmigrant status, or a continuous period during the investigation or prosecution of the acts of trafficking, provided that the U.S. Attorney General has certified that the investigation or prosecution is complete, whichever time is less;
  • Maintain good moral character during your stay in the United States;
  • Have complied with any reasonable request for help in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking show extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal from the United States or have been under 18 years of age at the time you file this application; and
  • Be admissible to the United States, or be able to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility.

For more information on Green Cards, see the Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status page.

Q. Is A Victim of Trafficking Eligible For Any Services And Benefits?
A. Victims of trafficking may be eligible for many federallyand statefunded benefits and services regardless of immigration status if they have been certified by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Once a victim has been certified, they are eligiblefor benefits andservicesto the same extentas a refugee. If the victim is under the age of 18,they areeligible for certain benefits without the requirement of certification.

Additional Information

To report trafficking in persons call:the National Human Trafficking Hotline at888-373-7888.

Questions and Answers: Victims of Human Trafficking, T Nonimmigrant Status (2024)
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