A T visa is a nonimmigrant visa that permits human trafficking victims to stay in the United States and help law enforcement investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes. Once approved, the individual receives temporary legal status and the ability to work and apply for various public benefits.
If you are a human trafficking victim and would like to apply for a T visa or have received approval and would like to learn more, you can contact New Frontier Immigration Law today for help from an attorney.
What Is a T Visa?
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVPA) created the T visa “to combat trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and involuntary servitude…” The Act protects those trafficked into the United States who fear returning to their country of origin.
To be eligible for a T visa, a person must be a victim of a “severe form of trafficking in persons.” They must be physically present in the United States and comply with requests for help “investigating or prosecuting traffickers.” They also must show they would experience extreme hardship (unusual and severe harm) if removed from the country.
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How do You Apply for a T Visa?
Individuals must submit a completed Form I-914 Application for Nonimmigrant Status to apply for a T visa to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In addition, they will need to include the necessary documentation and evidence and a personal statement describing how they meet the eligibility requirements for the T visa. Once USCIS receives the application, the agency will review it to determine if the applicant can receive a T visa.
Along with Form I-914, the applicant must also submit the following:
- Police reports, medical records, or witness affidavits to show they were the victim of severe trafficking of persons. In addition, I-914 Supplement B may be included.
- Documentation showing they complied with reasonable requests for help investigating or prosecuting traffickers (or evidence of exemption).
- Proof they would experience extreme hardship if removed from the United States.
- Other documentation or evidence that supports their T visa eligibility.
What Happens After a Person Receives a T Visa Approval?
Once an individual receives approval for a T visa, they will receive T nonimmigrant status. This means they can remain and work in the United States for up to four years. In addition to being given temporary legal status, a T visa provides certain benefits to the individual, including housing assistance and medical care.
The T visa holder may qualify to change their status to lawful permanent resident after three years of continued presence in the United States. They must submit Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with the required documentation and evidence. They will be granted permanent residence and permitted to work and reside in the United States if approved.
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Can Relatives Get a T Visa?
Some immediate relatives of trafficking victims can obtain a T visa for derivative T nonimmigrant status. Certain family members can file a family petition if they fear retaliation due to human trafficking. Those eligible for a derivative T visa include spouses and unmarried children under age 21. For trafficking victims under 21, however, eligible family members include parents and unmarried minor siblings.
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What Happens If the USCIS Denies Your Application?
If the USCIS denies a T visa application, the applicant may qualify to appeal their decision. The individual’s circumstances and reason for denial can affect the appeals process. That said, typical steps that may be involved include the following:
- Review the denial notice, which should provide a reason for the denial and can help the applicant determine if an appeal may be warranted.
- File an I-290, Notice of Appeal or Motion with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) within 30 days of receiving the decision, including the filing fee and a written brief (legal argument) explaining why the decision should be reversed.
- Wait until the decision notice arrives, which may take several months.
- Explore other options, such as filing a motion to reopen, re-review the case, or filing a lawsuit in federal court.
Unfortunately, the appeals process can be time-consuming and complex to navigate. For this and other reasons, you might consider consulting with an immigration lawyer who can provide guidance and support.
Contact New Frontier Immigration Law Today for Help With a T Visa
If you are a human trafficking victim and would like to remain in the United States because of an undue fear of returning home, New Frontier Immigration Law can help you apply for a T visa or permanent status. We are committed to helping human trafficking victims and other immigrants address issues involving their legal status. To get started, contact us for an initial consultation with our immigration law firm today.