The culture of lying and using children and adults against their will and illegally smuggling them into other countries is known as Human trafficking. Unfortunately, this scary act is prominent in all countries.
In the year 2000, the US Congress in a bid to help victims of such criminal activities passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act.
What is the meaning of T Visa?
This is a visa issued to victims of human trafficking including children (minors) and adults to help relieve their hardship since there are lots of people who are smuggled illegally into the United States against their will with the promise of employment and several other benefits.
How can we describe Human Trafficking in this case?
In the case of Human trafficking, T visa, in this case, is comprehensively defined under three elements:
- The first element is the process of trafficking which include either recruitment, harboring, transportation, transferring, or receiving someone against their will
- The second element is the means of trafficking which include either coercion, abduction, fraud, threat, deceit, deception, or abuse of power
- The third element is the aim of trafficking which include either prostitution, pornography, violence, slavery, involuntary servitude, sexual exploitation, debt bondage, or forced labor
How can you qualify for a T Nonimmigrant Status?
For one to be eligible for this visa as a victim of human trafficking, if he/she is an adult, the person must prove at least one element out of the aforementioned three, while if he/she is a kid, the child must show only the process or goal of trafficking elements.
Aside from the three elements, another requirement is that the victim must have been trafficked into the United States and remain in the country.
In addition to this, the victim must not have the knowledge that they were being trafficked to qualify for the visa, but they must cooperate with law enforcement agencies in the investigation.
There are numerous criteria you must fulfill for you to be qualified for the T visa, and they are as follows:
- The first criterium is that you must be a victim of human trafficking as we earlier stated and in the legal documents.
- The second criterium is that you must have been trafficked into the US and presently be within the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a United State port of entry
- The third criterium is that you must be ready to work with law enforcement agencies to assist in their investigation. Nevertheless, you are exempted from this requirement:
- If you are a child below the age of 18 years.
- If you have suffered a measure of physical or mental trauma
- The fourth criterium is that you must prove that sending you back from the United States would subject you to severe hardship or harm, and this can be achieved by:
- Providing evidence that you will not have access to medical assistance in your home country as in the United States.
- Providing evidence that your government may not be able to keep you safe.
- Provide evidence that you would suffer stigmatization in your home country as a victim of human trafficking, and so on.
- The fifth criterium is that you must be admissible in the United States and have not disobeyed any immigration rules. In a case whereby you are inadmissible, you can file Form I-129.
What do you stand to benefit from the T Visa?
Victims of human trafficking once issued a T visa become entitled to all the benefits that are similar to those that refugees get and it is the duty of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Refugee Resettlement to ensure that the victims are qualified for those benefits.
Aside from all the benefits, the T visa holder without applying for one automatically gets an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which gives them the permission to work in any legal activity whether part or full time.
How can you apply for a T visa?
The procedure for applying for the T visa is fairly easy. Unlike the procedure for applying for a U visa where you can choose to either be in the US or outside, the T visa application must currently be inside the US to be qualified. The applicant must submit the following when applying for the T visa:
- He/she must complete Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status.
- He/she must complete Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victims of trafficking in Persons. In summary, it is a certification that you are a victim of human trafficking according to law enforcement agencies.
- He/she must provide 3 passport-sized photographs which meet the requirements of the US Visa photographs.
What is the Application Fees for the T Visa?
You will not be asked to pay for any application fee when you submit your application package that is to say that the T-visa is free, but there are fees you should pay for filing the forms. You can mitigate paying these fees by filling the form to waive them (Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver).
What is the processing time for the T Visa?
There is no particular duration stated as the processing time that is to say that the processing time for the T visa varies from person to person and this depends on the evidence that they provide.
How Long will the T visa be valid?
Just like the U visa, the T visa is valid for a maximum of 4 years, and during this period, the principal T visa holder is free to open a bank account, obtain a driver’s license, get admitted into an academic or vocational study, and secure employment.
Upon expiration of this period, the T visa holder is expected to return to their home country or risk facing legal issues. Nevertheless, under special conditions, the T visa holder is permitted to apply for an extension or change of status.
Is it possible to obtain a Green Card on a T visa?
You do not just have the option of extending your status but also you can upgrade it by filing for permanent residence. Once it is approved, you can be issued a green card thereby permitting you to remain in the United States accessing all the rights that permanent residents have.
Nevertheless, you must meet the below requirements for you to be qualified for the Green Card:
- The first criterium is that you must have been in the United States for a minimum of 3 years on a T visa.
- The second criterium is that you must have helped with the investigation as the victim of the human trafficking crime.
- The third criterium is that you must excel in a good character assessment.
- The fourth criterium is that you must prove that if returned to your home country, you would suffer extreme hardship
- The fifth criterium is that you must be admissible in the United States.
Is it possible for my family and dependents to accompany me with a T Visa?
We earlier stated that there are various types of T visas, which are mostly for family members and dependents including your spouse, children, parents, and siblings.
Furthermore, they can either be outside or within the United States to be able to apply for this visa. You must file Form I-914, Supplement A, Application to apply for Immediate Family Member of T-1 Recipient and the form can be filed either when you are filing your application or after you have gotten your visa.
Interestingly, your family members have the same rights as you do, nevertheless, they must file for an EAD to be permitted to work. Furthermore, they are also allowed to file for an extension of their status when the T visa holder does so. The same thing applies to filing for a Green Card.
Are there available visas for the dependents of Human Trafficking victims?
During the launching of the T visa, there were numerous scenarios of who the victim of human trafficking could be, and as a result of that, one principal type of T visa was launched which is for the victim alongside several derivative visas which are for dependents and family members.
- A T-2 visa is designed for the spouse of the T-1 visa holder and the marriages must be proven through a legitimate marriage certificate.
- A T-3 visa is designed for the children of the T-1 visa holder and must be proven with a legitimate birth certificate.
- A T-4 visa is designed for the parents of the T-1 visa holder and the visa holder must be below the age of 21 years if the parents must be eligible for a T-4 visa.
- A T-5 visa is designed for the single siblings of the T-1 visa holder and they must be below the age of 18 years old, while the T-1 visa holder must be under 21 years old.
Finally, if you are a victim of human trafficking, with this article, you have known that there is a visa tailor-made for you, how you can apply, the requirements needed, including how you can upgrade your visa and obtain a Green card to become a permanent citizen of the United States.