In our practice, we often encounter people who are survivors of human trafficking and have been in the United States for years without knowing that they may qualify to request a T Visa. T nonimmigrant status allows survivors of severe human trafficking to stay in the United States, to obtain employment authorization, and to eventually apply for a green card. Although this provides a much-needed benefit for survivors, there is a lack of knowledge about the process and not enough survivors take advantage of it. Even when there is a statutory annual limit of 5,000 T visas that can be granted per fiscal year, this number is hardly, if ever, reached.
That is why it is so important for practitioners and survivors alike to be aware of the existence of this benefit, and the requirements to qualify, which I will cover below.
To be eligible for a T Visa, a survivor must (1) be a victim of a severe form of human trafficking, (2) be physically present in the United States on account of that trafficking, (3) comply with any reasonable request for assistance made by law enforcement (or be under the age of 18 or unable to participate due to trauma), and, (4) suffer extreme hardship if removed from the United States. INA § 101 (a)(15)(T); 8 C.F.R. § 214.11. It is important to note that severe human trafficking can include sex trafficking, as well as forced labor or services. For a more detailed definition, please take a look at 22 U.S. Code § 7102. It is also important to note that each case of human trafficking is unique in its set of facts, and an experienced immigration attorney can help you by discussing details of your case to determine if you qualify.
The duration of the T nonimmigrant status is for up to four years but can be extended in certain circumstances. Additionally, you can apply for a green card if you meet the requirements for adjustment of status, and certain relatives may benefit as derivatives of your application, providing a pathway for family to become permanent residents as well.
If you have questions about the T visa or if you qualify, we would love to discuss your case with you. Please call our office at 817-642-5848 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.