Requirement 2: You have cooperated with or are excused from cooperating with reasonable requests from legal authorities.
In the question called What must I prove to be eligible for a T-visa?, we list all of the requirements that you have to meet to be eligible to apply for a T-visa. In this section, we explain the second requirement in detail.
It is important to know that you do not need to prove this requirement if:
- you are under 18. Minors do not have to cooperate with authorities although you can if you want to;1 or
- you have suffered psychological or physical trauma, and are unable to cooperate with law enforcement because of that trauma. In this case, you may qualify for the “trauma exception” to this requirement.2
Everyone else must show that they at least tried to be helpful with any “reasonable requests” from law enforcement.3 Whether a request is “reasonable” depends on the particular situation. Things that will be considered include:
- general law enforcement practices (what law enforcement usually does when catching and prosecuting criminals);
- your experiences (what you were subjected to by the trafficker); and
- your circumstances regarding fear, physical and mental trauma, and your age and maturity.4
For example, if law enforcement asks you to do something that puts your life in jeopardy, this could be seen as an unreasonable request. However, it is ultimately up to USCIS to decide if what law enforcement asked you to do is reasonable or not.
If you are working with law enforcement, the easiest way to fulfill this requirement is with the law enforcement endorsement. If, however, law enforcement has asked you to do something unreasonable, you can still meet this requirement if you show you were willing to provide other help.
Note: A significant number of trafficking victims may report their situation to law enforcement, but law enforcement may decide not to investigate the case for a variety of reasons. For example, law enforcement may believe that their resources are better spent on large trafficking rings rather than one individual’s case; or they may think other victims will be better witnesses in their case, etc. The fact that law enforcement doesn’t want or need your help doesn’t mean you aren’t a real victim of trafficking or that you shouldn’t get a T visa. USCIS recognizes this, and the law explains how you can still meet this requirement without a law enforcement endorsement. For example, a victim may be able to offer evidence such as trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, and other evidence if s/he can’t get a law enforcement endorsement.5 This is, however, another place where an experienced attorney can help you. S/he can help you contact law enforcement to offer your help, can “create a record” that you tried to be helpful, and pester law enforcement for a response, which the attorney will document in writing and share with USCIS.
To avoid USCIS denying your case and possibly putting you or your family members into immigration court proceedings, it is safer for you and your family to work with an attorney with experience in T visa cases. Use our Finding a Lawyer page to find a lawyer in your state. You can also ask one of the national immigration organization on our National Organizations - Immigration page to help find you a lawyer.
1 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(b)(3)(i)
2 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(T)(i)(III)(bb); 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(b)(3)(ii)
3 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(T)(i); 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(b)(3)
4 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(h)
5 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(f)(1)(iii)