Each year, countless men, women, and children fall victim to unthinkable exploitation through no fault of their own. For those who have endured the trauma of human trafficking, the path forward can seem impassable. In such dire straits, the priority must be protection.
Recognizing this reality, the U.S. government established the T visa program. This non-immigrant visa categorization was created to provide a measured solution. Specifically, the T visa gives trafficking survivors who assist law enforcement the opportunity to legally remain in the U.S. and access needed support services.
By extending temporary immigration relief, it aims to curb criminal networks while offering trafficking victims an opportunity to rebuild their lives. An immigration lawyer in Phoenix can help you understand the steps you need to take, but first, let’s take a look at what exactly a T Visa is.
Am I Eligible to Qualify for a T Visa?
Here are some of the key eligibility requirements for a T visa:
- You must have been a victim of a severe form of human trafficking, such as sex trafficking or labor trafficking induced by force, fraud, or coercion.
- You must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, or at a port of entry due to trafficking.
- You must comply with reasonable requests from law enforcement for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking cases unless you are under 18 years old or unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma.
- You must demonstrate that removal from the U.S. would result in severe, unusual harm or extreme hardship
- You must be admissible to the United States. Some grounds of inadmissibility can be waived for human trafficking victims.
It’s important to work closely with a qualified immigration attorney when preparing a T visa application to ensure all eligibility criteria are properly addressed.
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Benefits of a T Visa to Victims of Human Trafficking
Some of the key benefits of obtaining a T visa for victims of human trafficking include:
- Legal status: A T visa provides valid non-immigrant legal status for up to 4 years in the United States.
- Work authorization: T visa holders immediately receive employment authorization, allowing them to legally work.
- Derivative visas: Immediate family members can receive derivative T visas to join the survivor in the U.S.
- Public benefits eligibility: T visa status qualifies individuals to receive federal public benefits to help with basic needs.
- Resettlement assistance: The Department of Health and Human Services provides case management services to help stabilize survivors.
- Ability to apply for permanent residence: After 3 years with a T visa, one can apply for a Green Card through adjustment of status.
- Protection: T visa status reduces the threat of removal and allows survivors safety and privacy during legal proceedings.
- Self-sufficiency: With work authorization and services, survivors gain independence and tools to begin rebuilding their lives.
By providing security, care, and the right to legally remain in the U.S., the T visa offers trafficking victims immeasurable support as they embark on their healing journey.
What is Considered Human Trafficking When Applying for a T Visa?
Human trafficking, otherwise known as modern-day slavery, is a pervasive global issue with devastating consequences. In the case of the T visa, human trafficking is outlined in detail to help ensure the safety and protection of victims. The definition states that human trafficking involves three elements: Process, Means, and Goal.
The process of human trafficking includes any action that furthers the exploitation of another person against their will, such as recruitment, transferring, transportation, harboring, or receiving them. This can be done under threat, coercion, fraud, or other forms of manipulation, making people vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
The means are usually something like deception or false promises and can include physical or psychological abuse.
The goal of human trafficking is typically linked to profiteering from sexual exploitation, forced labor, or involuntary servitude as part of a bigger economic system designed to take advantage of others’ vulnerabilities.
The T visa initiative works towards preventing those with no intention of entering into a life of illegal activity from falling prey to people willing to exploit them by clarifying and putting an emphasis on what constitutes human trafficking under its requirements for VAWA eligibility for certain immigrants with U visas.
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How a Phoenix Immigration Attorney Can Help You With the T Visa Process
The attorneys of New Frontier can help ensure that your application is processed smoothly and efficiently. We conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your case to assess your eligibility for a T visa or other forms of immigration relief. We’ll prepare and submit a complete application packet containing all necessary forms, documentation, and evidence to support your claim.
If requested by USCIS, we can accompany you to interviews to address questions from the adjudicating officer on your behalf. Should any special requests be needed while the application is pending, such as an extension or change of status, our team helps you with filing such requests with USCIS.
Throughout the process, you will be kept regularly updated on case status, from initial receipt and processing times to notifications of any Requests for Evidence. Our knowledge of the T visa process helps ensure your application receives full consideration for this vital humanitarian protection.
Contact us today to learn more about how our immigration lawyers in Phoenix can help you.