Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers lure individuals with false promises of employment and a better life. Traffickers often take advantage of poor, unemployed individuals who lack access to social safety nets. The T nonimmigrant visa allows victims to remain in the United States to assist federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases. To consider a situation ‘trafficking’ depends on the type of work, and the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain or maintain work.
Under Federal law, the term “severe forms of trafficking” can be broken into two categories:
Sex trafficking: recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age.
Labor trafficking: recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
To apply for T nonimmigrant status, applicants must file Form I-914, and may also apply for eligible family members using Form I-914, Supplement A. Applicants may also apply for employment authorization for family members using Form I-765.To qualify for T nonimmigrant status you must:
- Be or have been a victim of severe trafficking in persons.
- Be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry on account of trafficking.
- Comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking;
- Demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship involving severe and unusual harm if you were removed from the United States.
If under the age of 18 at the time of the victimization, or if you are unable to cooperate with a law enforcement request due to physical or psychological trauma, you may qualify for the T nonimmigrant visa without having to assist in investigation or prosecution.You must also be admissible to the United States or obtain a waiver of admissibility.
The statute allows USCIS to extend these derivative benefits to spouses, children, and parents based upon their relationship to the principal U (“U-1”) nonimmigrant if:
(1) The qualifying family member was never admitted to the U.S. in U nonimmigrant status, and
(2) It is established that either the family member or the U-1 principal applicant would suffer extreme hardship if the qualifying family member is not allowed to remain in or be admitted to the U.S.
For a T-1 nonimmigrant to be eligible to apply for permanent residence, the following conditions must be met:
- The applicant has been physically present in the United States for:
- A continuous period of at least three years since the first date of admission as a T-1 nonimmigrant; or
- A continuous period during the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking, and the Attorney General has determined the investigation or prosecution is complete, whichever period of time is less;
- You have been a person of good moral character since first being admitted as a T-1 nonimmigrant and until the decision on your Form I-485;
- You have complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking since first being admitted as a T-1 nonimmigrant and until a decision on your Form I-485, or you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal from the United States; and
- You are admissible to the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
If you or anyone you know is or has been a victim of human trafficking you should contact your local authorities and/or an attorney as soon as possible.