• T Nonimmigrant Visa
  • September 25, 2015 | Author: Alexander Joseph Segal
  • Law Firm: The Law Offices of Grinberg & Segal, PLLC - New York Office
  • WHAT IS A T NONIMMIGRANT VISA?

    A T-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa, which allows people who have been victims of certain forms of human trafficking the ability to gain immigration status in the United States. The T Visa category is designed both as a form of much-needed relief for victims of trafficking and also as a benefit that allows and encourages the victim to cooperate with authorities in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. Eligible family members of principal T Visa holders may apply for derivative T Visas (T-2, T-3, T-4, and T-5).

    WHY WAS THE T NONIMMIGRANT VISA ESTABLISHED?

    The United States Government believes that 50,000 victims of human trafficking enter the United States every year.1 Recognizing that human trafficking is a scourge both for trafficking victims and the United States as a whole, Congress acted by passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act2 (VTPA), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 2000. Among other things, the VTPA amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to add the provisions pertaining to the T nonimmigrant Visa category. By creating the T Visa category, Congress hoped not only to help victims of trafficking, but also to incentivize trafficking victims to help law enforcement authorities investigate and prosecute traffickers.

    Victims of many non-trafficking crimes committed subject to U.S. jurisdiction who have information that may help authorities prosecute the perpetrators may be eligible for the similar U-1 Visa, which was also established in the VTPA.

    WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A T NONIMMIGRANT VISA?

    T Visas admit the beneficiary for 4 years of T status in the United States. Furthermore, T Visa holders may be eligible for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after maintaining T status for 3 years. As an additional benefit, employment authorization is immediately granted to T-1 Visa holders upon being granted T status.

    WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A T NONIMMIGRANT VISA?

    Victims of human trafficking may be eligible for T-1 Visas provided that they are physically present in the United States on account of the trafficking and that the trafficking involved:
    • the use of force, fraud, or coercion for
    • sex trafficking (applicants less than 18 years of age do not need to prove force, fraud, or coercion in sex trafficking cases)3 and/or involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.4
    Furthermore, a T-1 Visa application must demonstrate that the applicant would “suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal.”5

    In most cases, in order to be approved for a T-1 Visa, the applicant must be found to have complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the crime (“reasonableness” is determined on a case-by-case basis in order to take into account the nature of the crime and the circumstances of the victim).6 In the case that the victim is under the age of 187 or is found to be unable to cooperate in the investigation due to physical or psychological trauma,8 the applicant does not have to comply with even reasonable requests for assistance.

    If a person is allowed to enter the United States in order to participate in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking, he or she will be considered “physically present” on account of trafficking for purpose of T-1 Visa eligibility.9

    If the T-1 Visa applicant is under 21 years of age, his or her spouse, children, parents, and unmarried siblings less than 18 years of age may be eligible for derivative T Visas. If the applicant is over 21 years of age, his or her spouse or children may be eligible for derivative T Visas.10 Children of derivative T Visa beneficiaries may also eligible for derivative T Visa status.11

    HOW DO I APPLY FOR A T NONIMMIGRANT VISA?

    In order to apply for a T Visa, you must submit:
    • Completed Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status; and
    • Three passport-size photographs; and
    • A personal statement explaining how you were a trafficking victim; and
    • Evidence that shows you meet all of the applicable eligibility requirements; and
    • (Recommended) Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons (this supplement, filled out by the law enforcement agency investigating or prosecuting your crime, will show both law enforcement support for your claims and that you have been cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking crime you are a victim of); and
    • Form I-914, Supplement A, Application for Immediate Family Member of T-1 Recipient (if applying for an eligible family member to receive a derivative T Visa).12
    Although the above instructions for filing are found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS website, given the complexity of the application and consequences of improper filing, it is always highly recommended to hire an experienced immigration attorney to assess your eligibility for a T Visa and guide you through the entire T Visa application process.

    1 Clawson, Heather, Nicole Dutch, Amy Solomon, and Lisa Goldblatt Grace. “Human Trafficking Into and Within the United States: A Review of the Literature.” DHS, (Accessed August 3, 2015), http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/07/HumanTrafficking/LitRev/
    2 For link to the Department of State page on the statute.
    3 S. Kurzban, Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Outline and Reference Tool (AILA 14th Ed. 2014) 1044
    4 Kurzban 1044, citing for the list INA § 101(a)(15)(T)(i); 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(b); 22 U.S.C. § 7102 [defining “severe form of trafficking]
    5 Id.
    6 Kurzban 1045, citing 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(a)
    7 Kurzban 1045, citing Memo, Yates, Assoc. Dir. Operations, USCIS, HQOPRD 70/6.2 (Apr. 15, 2004), published on AILA InfoNet at Doc. No. 04060110. [change in rules removing the requirement that victims less than 18 years of age must comply with reasonable requests for assistance]
    8 Kurzban 1045, citing INA § 101(a)(15)(T)(iii); AFM 39.2(b)(3).
    9 Kurzban 1044, INA §101(a)(15)(T)(i)(II); Policy Memo, USCIS, PM-602-0004 (July 21, 2010), published on AILA InfoNet at Doc. No. 10072930 at p.2; AFM 39.2(b)(2)
    10 “Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status,” USCIS, October 3, 2011, (retrieved on August 3, 2015), available at http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-human-trafficking-t-nonimmigrant-status
    11 Kurzban 1047, citing INA § 101(a)(15)(T)(ii)(III); 9 FAM 41.84; AFM 39.2(f)(1)
    12 “Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status,” USCIS, October 3, 2011, (retrieved on August 3, 2015), available at http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-human-trafficking-t-nonimmigrant-status