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Laws current as of September 18, 2019

Requirement 1: You are or have been the victim of a "severe form of trafficking"

In the question called What must I prove to be eligible for a T-visa? we list four requirements that you have to meet. In this section, we explain the first requirement in detail.

Human traffickers recruit or kidnap their victims to provide sex or labor whether the victims want to or not, known as sex trafficking and labor trafficking. These are the two “severe forms” of trafficking recognized by the government.

Sex trafficking includes forcing people to participate in creating pornography, selling or buying women as mail-order brides, or forcing women or men to be prostitutes by providing sex in exchange for money or other valuable things. This can take place in many locations, including brothels, massage parlors, and family homes; for instance, a trafficker may force his spouse to prostitute herself to his friends.

Labor trafficking can be seen in many kinds of “workplaces.” For instance, domestic workers may be victims of trafficking if they are forced to work in someone’s home, as a maid, nanny, etc., when they do not want to. Labor trafficking may take place in many industries, including agriculture, processing plants, factories, janitorial and food services, nail salons, and more. Traffickers may even force trafficking victims to beg on the streets. 1

Labor and sex trafficking often involve what is called “debt bondage,” which is when are forced to work to “repay” a debt to the trafficker. However, you are never actually able to repay the debt because the trafficker says you “owe too much” or keeps adding on new “expenses.”2 For instance, traffickers typically “charge” victims for their transportation to the United States and for their food and lodging once they are here. The traffickers make sure they charge so much that their victims will never be able to repay them. 3 As long as you owe this debt, the trafficker will not let you go, which often means there is no end in sight to being forced to do work you do not want to do.

To understand how the government decides if you are, in fact, a victim of a severe form of human trafficking, go to How does USCIS determine if I am a victim of a “severe form of human trafficking?

1 National Human Trafficking Resource Center Fact Sheet
2 22 U.S.C. § 7102(7)
3 22 U.S.C. § 7102(8)