Immigration Blog

February 8, 2019

Have you been the victim of trafficking?

A T-visa is commonly referred to as a trafficking visa, but when someone says trafficking the word makes you think of sex trafficking and kidnapping, but those who are eligible for this visa include a lot more than just that what initially comes to mind. For example, have you ever not been paid wages?, not been paid overtime?, or brought to the United States to be with a partner who controls everything? Did you come here on a work visa with a promise of one job, yet the job and conditions were completely different when you arrived? Did a coyote (paid human smuggler) bring you here and force you to do things before you would be released or change the agreement? These are all situations that may qualify you for a T visa. Many never ever realize they have been victims of trafficking, and therefore, never take advantage of this visa.

In order to be eligible for a T visa you do have to meet certain criteria:
1. Be the victim of human trafficking which is defined as “the 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 subjection of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt, bondage, or slavery.” 22 USCA sec. 7102(8)(B).
2. Be physically present in the United States due to this trafficking
3. Be willing to report the trafficking to law enforcement and provide any reasonable assistance necessary for investigation and prosecution
4. you would suffer extreme hardship and unusual harm if returned to your country

Issuance of a T Visa
The U.S. government only issues 5,000 T-visas a year, and this cap has never been met (meaning each year under 5000 applicants apply). If you are eligible for a T-visa your family could benefit as well- your spouse, and unmarried children under age 21 can be derivatives of your T-visa. If you are under 21 years old and applying for a T visa in addition to your spouse and unmarried children under age 21, your parents can be derivatives as well as any unmarried siblings under age 18 at the time of filing. Also unique to the T visa, in certain circumstances your derivative’s child can obtain T visa status as well. Once you are granted a T visa it is good for four years and comes with an employment authorization document, you may then apply for your Legal Permanent Residency after 3 years in T visa status, or sooner if the law enforcement officials sign off on the investigation leading to your T visa is complete and they no longer require your assistance.

T visas are very complex as many people do not even realize they have been trafficking victims. It is important to consult an immigration lawyer to help you determine if you are eligible for this relief, and it is important to confide in your attorney about everything that happened as we are here to advocate for you. If you think you may be eligible for this relief, please call us today for a free consultation at 503-224-0950.