USA and the UK
T Visa: An Overview
The T visa is designed to assist victims of human trafficking. It provides a pathway to legal status, allowing survivors to stay temporarily in the US and access vital resources and services. This program offers protection and, at the same time, encourages all victims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases.
Below is a comprehensive list of the T visa requirements and an outline of the application process and its benefits.
Qualifying for a T Visa
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) consider an individual eligible for the T nonimmigrant status based on the following criteria:
- Dangerous Situation. They are or have been victims of human trafficking under federal law (including sex and labor trafficking) and would be exposed to unusual and severe harm (including refusal of medical assistance) if they are sent back to their home country or leave the US.
- Location. They must be located within the US, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or at a port-of-entry in the United States as a victim of human trafficking.
- Cooperation. They have cooperated with law enforcement agencies upon any requests for help in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (unless they are under 18 or not able to collaborate due to physical or psychological trauma).
NB: Individuals looking to apply for T visas must also undergo a review of their admissibility to the United States. This includes an examination of their criminal history, immigration violations, and other relevant factors. If they are found inadmissible, they may still have the opportunity to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility (if eligible).
Applying for a T visa is straightforward, but you must ensure that all your documents are in order. Given that you have to be physically present in the US to be eligible, you must submit your T Visa Application directly with USCIS—US embassies or consulates abroad won’t accept it. Note that the number of available T visas for principal applicants is limited to 5,000 per fiscal year by Congress (but this cap has never been reached so far). You should send your application at:
Vermont Service Center
ATTN: VAWA / T-Visa Unit
75 Lower Welden St.
Saint Albans, Vermont 05479-0001
To apply for the T visa, you’ll need the following:
- Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, with a personal statement that describes your situation.
- Form I-914, Supplement A, Application for Family Member of T-1 Recipient, if you are also applying for a qualifying family member (see below for more information).
- Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons or other relevant evidence such as communication records, trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, news articles, and affidavits. These will serve to demonstrate that you have helped law enforcement with their investigation or prosecution.
- Evidence to confirm that you qualify for the T visa per the above criteria.
- Three passport-sized photographs.
- Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, if you need to request a waiver of inadmissibility.
Costs Associated and Timings
There are no fees associated with all forms listed above, except for Form I-192, which costs $930 if filed with USCIS. However, you can request a fee waiver (using Form I-912 Request for Fee Waiver) for this and for any of the following forms you are submitting in conjunction with your application:
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
In terms of timings, USCIS does not estimate a timeframe, as the processing time may vary from case to case.
Travel Restrictions While on T Visa
After your application is approved and you are lawfully admitted as a T nonimmigrant, you won’t receive any physical visa that you could use as a travel document to re-enter the US. Therefore, if you leave the country, you may encounter certain issues: you may be regarded as inadmissible upon your return, or your T visa could be revoked if you return illegally or on a different visa.
This is why a continuous physical presence in the US is strongly recommended during the first three years of your T visa nonimmigrant status, as traveling abroad may jeopardize it. Continuous physical presence means that you are not allowed to stay outside of the US for more than 90 days at a time or for more than 180 days on multiple trips.
Remember also that, if you are in the process of obtaining a green card, you can’t leave the country without applying for parole. If you fail to do so, USCIS will count your application as abandoned, and you will be denied lawful permanent residence in the US.
For all the above reasons, it is crucial for T visa holders to consult with immigration authorities or legal professionals before making any travel plans. For any assistance with T visas, travel plans, specific guidance on the required forms or fee waivers, do not hesitate to give us a call on +1 844 290 6312 or contact us online. From a simple document check to comprehensive advice on the application process, IAS immigration lawyers are available to listen and help with your case.
What Are the T Visa Benefits?
The T visa offers temporary stay, employment authorization and other benefits to eligible victims in the US for up to four years. More specifically, the T nonimmigrant status grants access to:
- Right to work. Immediately after application approval, trafficking victims will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that provides them with the right to find a job and work. Victims of human trafficking under this status can open a bank account, get a driver’s license or start studying.
- Pathway to permanent residence. After three years, or upon investigation/prosecution completion, T visa holders can apply for lawful permanent residence by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This means they will obtain a green card and can remain in the country with all the rights of a permanent resident. Only those who are admissible in the US, have assisted with the investigation and passed a good character assessment will be eligible to apply for a status adjustment.
If you haven’t applied for a green card, you must leave the United States after four years. In some cases, however, you can remain in the US longer by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This is applicable only if law enforcement agencies prove that your stay is required for an investigation or if you justify your stay by showing evidence of exceptional circumstances.
- Federal financial benefits. You may receive a wide variety of federally funded benefits, from financial support, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the Supplemental Security Income, to healthcare access and public housing assistance. Each state offers different programs to help victims of sex trafficking or smuggling.
Note that these benefits come with your obligation to help law enforcement authorities and comply with any reasonable request to assist with investigations on human trafficking issues.
T Visa Derivatives: How to Apply for Your Family Members
Qualifying family members can also access all benefits from the T visa program through derivative nonimmigrant status. You can apply for the following family members if your escape and your consequent collaboration with law enforcement authorities are putting them in present danger:
- Your parents
- Your unmarried siblings (under 18 years old)
- Your children (any age)
If your family members are not threatened by retaliation, you can still file an application for derivative T nonimmigrant status based on your age. More specifically:
- If you are over 21, you can apply for your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old
- If you are under 21, you can apply for your spouse, parents, unmarried siblings (under 18 years old) and unmarried children (under 21 years old).
Your initial T visa application should include a request for any eligible family members: all you need is Form I-914, Supplement A, Application for Family Member of T-1 Recipient. Alternatively, you can file this while your own application is pending or later when you have already been granted T nonimmigrant status.
T Visa vs U Visa
The U and T visas are forms of immigration relief designed to assist victims of crimes, including severe forms of human trafficking. Both visas can lead towards a pathway to permanent residency and allow family members as derivative beneficiaries, although with diverse specific requirements and processes.
In terms of differences, the U Visa is specifically designed for victims of criminal activity who have suffered substantial physical and mental abuse. Notably, to be eligible for the U visa, the crime must have occurred within the US. In contrast, the T visa does not have a specific requirement regarding the location of the trafficking incident. Additionally, U visa applicants are subjected to greater cooperation with law enforcement than T nonimmigrant visa holders.
T Visa vs VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Visa
VAWA visa is for victims of domestic violence, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by a US citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent. While T visa applicants must cooperate with law enforcement agencies, VAWA visa applicants do not have a strict requirement to comply with law enforcement requests. Still, they must demonstrate the abuse they have suffered through evidence.
T Visa vs TPS (Temporary Protected Status) Visa
A T visa is issued to victims of human trafficking, while a Temporary Protected Status visa is granted to individuals from specific countries facing ongoing armed conflict, natural disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances.
While T visa nonimmigrant status lasts up to four years and counts towards the application for permanent residence, TPS only provides temporary protection from deportation and work authorization for fixed periods, but it can be extended if the conditions in the home country persist.
People from all nationalities can apply for T visas. TPS, on the other hand, is country-specific and is only available to individuals from countries designated by the US government.
Knowing all the requirements for the T visa could be the first step towards escaping dangerous circumstances, leading to a fresh start in the United States. Having the appropriate legal support in place throughout the application process is crucial. At IAS, as a team of experts in the immigration sector, we will do everything in our power to fight alongside you and help you achieve your desired outcome.
An immigration attorney will assist with your case and guide you throughout the process, from gathering all the required documents to adjusting your status to lawful permanent resident. Call us today on +1 844 290 6312 or complete the form online, so that we can learn more about your specific circumstances.
Last modified on July 27th, 2023 at 6:49 am
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After your application, you will be granted an Employment Authorization Document. This permit will allow you to work across all kinds of sectors (with the exclusion of some federal jobs or other professions that may require you to be a US citizen or a legal permanent resident). You can work both full or part-time hours.
Yes, if you are in the custody of US Immigration and Customer Enforcement (ICE) or in deportation proceedings, you can apply for a T visa. You can specify your current situation in the T visa declaration (Form I-914, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking).