“T” Nonimmigrant Status, commonly referred to as the “T” Visa, is a form of relief available to victims of trafficking. Trafficking means to use someone as a slave by forcing them to work against their will in the labor. This is a crime that would likely also qualify for “U” Nonimmigrant status. Therefore, it is important to speak to an attorney if you were the victim of trafficking to determine the best option in your case.
“T” NonImmigrant Status
The T-visa will allow the applicant, if granted, to stay in the United States for four years. Once the criminal case is finished against the trafficker or after three years (whichever is sooner), the applicant may apply for Lawful Permanent Residence (and five years later they may apply for citizenship). While the applicant is in “T” status, they will be eligible for a work permit and certain government benefits for eight months. In addition, the applicant may apply to bring their children and spouse to the United States.
- Must be a victim of a severe form of trafficking
- Must be in the U.S. because of the trafficking,
- have cooperated with reasonable requests for assistance by law enforcement, and
- be likely to suffer extreme hardship if removed from the United States
It is encouraged that your application for a T Visa include a certification by law enforcement that you cooperated with the investigation of the traffickers. If this is not possible, it is not an absolute requirement. However, if no certification is sent with the application, an explanation of all reasonable steps taken to cooperate with law enforcement should be submitted with the application.
If there are criminal or immigration violations in the applicant’s past, a waiver for variou grounds of inadmissibility may become necessary. If this is the case it is important to speak with an immigration attorney to determine what grounds need to be waived.
At this time the processing time for a T visa is at least four months. However, this is subject to change and depends on the number of applicants.