Requirement 3: You are in the United States, a U.S. territory, American Samoa, or a port of entry to the United States, a U.S. territory, or American Samoa because of human trafficking.
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 third requirement in detail.
You must prove that you came to the U.S. because of force, coercion, or fraud and you are now being forced to work or perform sex acts for money. If you came to the U.S. on your own and then sometime later you were forced or tricked into labor or prostitution, you may not meet this eligibility requirement.1 USCIS often denies T visas because victims can’t show they are here because of (“on account of”) the trafficking, so please talk to an immigration lawyer about your specific situation to be sure you can show you came to the U.S. because of human trafficking. You can find free and paid lawyers on our Finding a Lawyer page.
As long as you are here because you were trafficked to the U.S., you may be able to get T visa status even if you are no longer being forced to work or provide sex. This is especially true if you recently escaped or were released from the trafficking situation. If you escaped the trafficking a long time ago, you must show you are still in the United States because of the severe trafficking you experienced. For example, if you are frightened to leave the U.S. because the traffickers are threatening to hurt you in your homeland, you may be able to get T visa status even though you are no longer under their physical control. If USCIS believes you could have left the U.S., however, they may decide that you no longer qualify for a T visa.1
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. See our Finding a Lawyer page for free and paid legal services.
1 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(g)