Victims of human trafficking
Advantages of the T Visa in Comparison to Other Visas
It is common that survivors of human trafficking would have an aversion to reliving their past traumas by cooperating with law enforcement. In T Visa cases, cooperation with law enforcement is not required if the applicant is under age or if the request for cooperation is unreasonable. There are also exceptions when applicants have suffered physical and psychological abuse that prevents adequate collaboration with investigators. In this sense, if we compare it with the U Visa, it is more advantageous.
The T Visa doesn’t necessarily require certification from law enforcement. This means that the applicant can show evidence and documentation during the investigation, not necessarily the official certification. This is another notable difference from the U-Visa that does require this certification.
In comparison with other similar visas, processing times for the T Visa is faster. Each year, there is a cap of 5,000 visas, which normally is not exhausted.
Even If the applicant has a criminal record or a history of immigration violations, it is still possible to apply for the T Visa. This would not be permitted with some other benefits.
Although T Visa applicants cannot receive federal benefits, they can receive the same benefits as refugees such as cash assistance, food stamps and job training.
The T Visa and the U-Visa under the Trump Administration
Generally speaking, since Donald Trump assumed the presidency of the United States, immigration laws have become stricter for many case types. As a matter of fact, it is not a coincidence that immigration was one of the campaign pillars for the 2016 presidential elections.
The T Visa vs. the U Visa
The United States Congress created the T and U Visas in order to have victims cooperate with law enforcement to convict criminals. There are many differences between the two.
The United States law approaches human trafficking according to the United Nations Protocol of 2000 to prevent, suppress and punish based on three categories:
To obtain the T Visa, adult victims of human trafficking must demonstrate that the crime included at least one element from each of the three categories. In the case of underage victims of human trafficking, only one aspect is required from the categories of Process and Objective.
To be eligible for a T Visa the individual must have traveled to the United States because they were recruited, forced, kidnapped or tricked by a trafficker, and would not have come to the United States otherwise.
It is important to note that it is unnecessary to demonstrate that the individual “knew” they would be enslaved or obligated to engage in prostitution. For example, a person that came into the United States convinced they would be working in a certain field who came to find out that they would be working as cheap or even unpaid labor.
The same as with the U-Visa, applicants of the T Visa must cooperate reasonably with the investigators of the crime, although there are exceptions as earlier explained.
Just like the U-Visa, applicants must demonstrate that they suffered physical or mental abuse as a result of a qualifying crime; even though they do not have to provide documentation about the abuse (if they have proof, it will help the case be more convincing). If it is required for a T Visa applicant to leave the United States they must demonstrate extreme difficulties that involve extreme and unusual harm such as:
Previously we mentioned that the T Visa has an annual visa cap of 5,000 (not including family members of victims). In the case of the U-Visa, this cap doubles to give a 10,000 visa per year limit.
It is possible that the applicant of the U or T visa could receive their approval and not have a visa immediately available due to the legal limit that USCIS establishes. In this case the applicant must receive a letter notifying them of the situation, and communicating that the visa will be received as soon as possible. In the meantime, the applicant can apply for employment authorization.
Frequently asked questions:
This all depends on the specification of each particular case, but normally the process takes between 6 months to 1 year. However, this period of time could be less in exceptional cases if applied directly through USCIS.
To verify the status of a case (after receipt of the USCIS “Notice of Action”) one can log on to the USCIS official website and enter the 13 digit receipt number that each case has. If there are any further questions, they can be resolved telephonically or via email.
Usually, the T Visa has a maximum duration of four years from the time of approval. However, an extension is possible if some of the following criteria are met:
A district attorney, judge or other federal, state, or local authority in charge of the investigation of activity related to human trafficking certifies that is is necessary for the applicant to continue living in the United States to assist with the investigation or trial.
In the case of a minor, the applicant must comply with the specifications of INA § 245(I)8 U.S.C § 1255(I).
The Secretary of National Security indicated that due to exceptional circumstances, it is necessary to extend the T Visa
For a T Visa application, you must present the following documents:
Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, along with all additional documentation necessary
Form I-914 Supplement A for each family member included in the T Visa application
Form I-914 Supplement B for each LEA endorsement
3 current passport style photographs
Payment for digital fingerprints (if applicable)
Evidence that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for the T Visa
If necessary, the Waiver of Inadmissibility I-601. The fee waiver is also accepts for T Visa applicants
If necessary, the Application for Advanced Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, I-192
Any other application or necessary documentation.