Contrary to popular belief, slavery is still in effect across the globe. In fact, slavery – which is also known as human trafficking – is currently generating hundreds of billions of dollars as it wreaks havoc on communities and individuals.
Currently there are an estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking and this number seems to be continually growing, but thankfully there are many government agencies as well as law enforcement officers who are currently fighting day and night to end this form of slavery. But, these are not the only individuals fighting back against this slavery.
Some of the most influential and important individuals fighting to end slavery are the former victims who suffered at the hands of the traffickers and were displaced from their homelands. These individuals once free from their captors aid law enforcement in their prosecution of human traffickers and are rewarded with visas allowing them to safely remain in the United States.
What is a T Visa?
First and foremost a visa, is an authorization granted by the United States government to an individual to enter into and remain in the U.S. for a specific amount of time. There are dozens of types of visas, and each is determined by the reason the individual is in the country as well as the length of time that they will be here.
One of the many types of possible visas to obtain is a T visa. T visas are available for individuals who were victims of “severe“ human trafficking in the United States and are willing to assist with the investigation or prosecution of individuals who are involved in human trafficking.
Under federal law, the USCIS recognizes the following as severe forms of human trafficking are:
- Sex trafficking: “When an individual recruits, harbors, transports, provides, solicits, patronizes, or obtains 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; or
- Labor trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains 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.”
Eligibility for a T Visa
You may be eligible for a T visa if you fit any of the following criteria:
- Are or were a victim of a severe form of human trafficking as defined above
- Comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking
- Demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the United States
How to Apply for a T Visa:
In comparison to other visas, the T visa application is much easier and cheaper to submit. To apply for a T visa you will need to submit both form I-914 (Application for T non-immigrant status) which includes a personal statement how you were a victim and any evidence that shows that you willingly complied with requests from law enforcement and that you were the victim of human trafficking.
The personal statement detailing how you were a victim plays an important role in helping a USCIS case officer understand what you went through and why you are truly a victim. While writing the personal statement it is important to remember that it is personal and needs to be written in your own words with details specific to what you went through.
What is a T3 Visa?
In some cases the recipient of a T visa doesn’t live in the United States alone, meaning they may have children and spouses living with them as well. Even though they may not have directly experienced the human trafficking, these spouses and children are also eligible for a special type of T visa which will allow them to legally remain in the United States for several years.
To obtain a T3 visa, a T visa must first be obtained for the victim of human trafficking. Once the T visa has been obtained as the victim is assisting law enforcement, the family members can then apply for the T3 visa from either the United States or whichever country they are living.
What is a U Visa?
A U visa was created for victims of certain serious crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
The U visa was created to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Requirements for U visa eligibility:
- You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
- You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
- You have information about the criminal activity.
- The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
Assisting law enforcement in their apprehension and prosecution of human traffickers is vital to the destruction of slavery. If you were the victim of human trafficking or extreme abuse and have been assisting law enforcement officers, you may be eligible to receive a T visa and remain in the United States.
If you have been actively assisting law enforcement and have not been able to obtain a T visa, an experienced immigration attorney can assist you with the matter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a T visa?
T visas were created to aid individuals considered to be victims of severe human trafficking who are or have assisted law enforcement with the investigation and prosecution of human traffickers.
Q: Which type of immigration relief is specific to victims of human trafficking?
Both T and T3 visas are specific to the victims of human trafficking. The actual victims can receive a T visa and their family members may be eligible for a T3 visa.
Q: What is the difference between U Visa and T Visa?
A T visa is specific to the victims of human trafficking whereas a U visa is for victims who suffered serious mental and or physical abuse due to serious crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault.