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Laws current as of September 18, 2019

Requirement 4: You would suffer "extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm" if removed or forced to leave.

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 fourth requirement in detail.

USCIS has a particular set of things they look at to decide whether someone would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if sent back to their home country.1 Most trafficking victims would likely meet these factors since they are based on typical trafficking victims’ experience.

To show extreme hardship, it is not enough to just show that if you get sent back, you will suffer:

  1. economic harm, such as not having enough money to survive; or
  2. social harm, such as being considered not suitable for marriage or employment.1

You must show more than these two things. Generally, you will need to show that you will suffer serious physical or psychological harm if you get sent back. Having better job or social opportunities in the U.S. will not be a significant positive factor by itself.

When preparing your case, focus on how you can show the facts below:

  • the details (“nature and extent”) of the physical and psychological harm you experienced from the trafficking;
  • the support and medical care you need for these physical or psychological consequences of trafficking that are available in the U.S. but not in your home country;
  • your ongoing need for help from the U.S. civil and criminal court systems, such as your need to:
    • sue to get money to cover your medical expenses and compensate you for your suffering (“restitution”);
    • get protection from the traffickers; or
    • help with the prosecution of thee traffickers;
  • laws, social practices, and customs in your home country that will likely harm you because you were a victim of trafficking; for example, the traffickers are powerful in your home country; or you will be excluded, hated, or harmed because you helped hold the traffickers accountable by cooperating with law enforcement;
  • the likelihood that you will be re-trafficked if you go back and the inability or unwillingness of your home country to protect you from that;
  • the likelihood that the traffickers or those working with them will harm you if you go back, regardless of whether the home country’s government will try to protect you;
  • your safety will be threatened by civil unrest or armed conflict; and
  • how your age, maturity, or particular circumstances make it dangerous for you to go back. 1

As you can see, the list above mostly focuses on two things:

  1. What do you need in the U.S. to cope with being a victim of trafficking that you can’t get in your home country?
  2. What will happen if you go back to your home country?

If you have children who are also seeking T visas, it may be useful to also emphasize why they need ongoing support and care here that they cannot get in your home country.

1 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(i)