Know the Laws:
UPDATED May 6, 2013
The following information should not be considered as a legal opinion on specific facts or as a substitute for legal counsel. Circumstances around human trafficking and applying for a T-visa are usually complicated and need a case-by-case analysis. Please consult an attorney who understands the unique issues surrounding human trafficking BEFORE submitting anything to USCIS. For more information about services for trafficked victims prior to obtaining T-visa status, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center's Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or you can send a text to 233733, which corresponds with the letters BeFree on your phone.
Human trafficking is the process by which one person (the “trafficker”) recruits another person (“the victim”) for the purposes of exploiting that person. The victim is generally controlled and held captive by the trafficker against his/her will. Traffickers use or threaten to use force, coercion, abduction, fraud, or deception to bring their victims under their control. Traffickers also take advantage of the vulnerable social or economic status of their victims to keep power over them.
Trafficking is basically a modern-day form of slavery. Generally, human trafficking victims are subjected to sexual exploitation, known as sex trafficking, or forced labor known as labor trafficking.* Sexual exploitation could include acts such as forced pornography, mail-order bride selling, or prostitution. Forced labor generally comes in two forms:
A T-visa gives temporary nonimmigrant status to victims of "severe forms of human trafficking" on the condition that they help law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute crimes related to human trafficking.* However, if the victim is under 18 years of age, the law does not require cooperation with police to obtain a T-visa.*1
T-visas allow victims of severe forms of trafficking to stay in the United States for four years from the date the T-visa application is approved. However, sometimes it can be longer than four years if a law enforcement authority certifies (officially states) that having the victim remain in the country for longer is necessary for investigating or prosecuting the crime.*2
If a T-visa is granted, an employment authorization document (EAD) is also granted automatically, which means that the victim can legally work during his/her stay in the United States. There is no need to apply for separate employment authorization.*3 T-visa status may also be available for immediate family members of a T-visa applicant. Immediate family members include spouses, children, and parents of applicants under 18.*4
Note: T-visa status is also called “T-1 nonimmigrant status."
* 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(T)(i)
*1 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(T)(i)(III)(cc)
*2 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(p)(1)
*3 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(l)(4)
*4 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(o)