Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status

Scared battered women looking around a corner

T nonimmigrant status is a temporary immigration benefit that enables certain victims of a severe form of human trafficking to remain in the United States for up to 4 years if they have assisted law enforcement in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. T nonimmigrant status is also available for certain qualifying family members of trafficking victims. T nonimmigrants are eligible for employment authorization and certain federal and state benefits and services. T nonimmigrants who qualify may also be able to adjust their status and become lawful permanent residents (obtain a Green Card).

Congress created this status (commonly referred to as a T visa) in October 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to compel individuals to provide labor or services, including commercial sex. Traffickers often take advantage of vulnerable individuals, including those lacking lawful immigration status. T visas offer protection to victims and strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute human trafficking .

Under federal law, a “severe form of trafficking” is:

  • Sex trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, solicits, patronizes, or obtains a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age; or
  • Labor trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Eligibility for T Nonimmigrant Status

You may be eligible for T nonimmigrant status if you:

  • Are or were a victim of a severe form of human trafficking as defined above;
  • Are in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking;
  • Comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (unless you are under the age of 18 or you are unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma. In either case, you may not need to show that you complied with reasonable requests from law enforcement);
  • Demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the United States; and

Are admissible to the United States (If you are not admissible, you may be eligible for a waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility. You may apply for a waiver using a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant).

Applying for T Nonimmigrant Status

To apply for T nonimmigrant status, you must submit:

Fees

There is no fee to file Form I-914 and Form I-914A. Therefore, you do not need to submit a fee waiver request for either form.

You may request a fee waiver for other forms if you are filing them in connection with your application for T nonimmigrant status. These forms include:

  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
  • Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant

For more information on fee waiver requests, see Additional Information on Filing a Fee Waiver.

Safe Address and Confidentiality Protections

If you do not feel safe receiving mail from USCIS at your home address, you may include a safe address on your application. You do not have to be living at the safe address. If you need to let USCIS know that you have changed your mailing address after you have filed an application for T nonimmigrant status, see the Special Instructions at Change of Address Information.

If you apply for T nonimmigrant status with USCIS, any information about you or your application for T nonimmigrant status is strictly confidential and is protected by law. DHS can only share this information in very limited circumstances and may not deny your application based on evidence provided solely by your trafficker.

Eligibility for Qualifying Family Members

Certain qualifying family members may be eligible for T nonimmigrant status. Regardless of your age, you may apply for the following family members if they are in present danger of retaliation as a result of your escape from trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement:

  • Your parents;
  • Your unmarried siblings under 18 years of age; and
  • The children of any age or marital status of your qualifying family members who have been granted derivative T nonimmigrant status.

If your family members are not in present danger of retaliation, then follow the chart below:

If you are…

Then you may apply for your...

Under 21 years old

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children who are under 21 years old
  • Parents
  • Unmarried siblings who are under 18 years old

21 years old or older

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children who are under 21 years old

To apply for a qualifying family member, you must file Form I-914, Supplement A, Application for Family Member of T-1 Recipient (PDF, 1.05 MB). You may file Form I-914, Supplement A, at the same time as your Form I-914, or while your application is pending, or while you are in T nonimmigrant status.

Employment Authorization

Whether you need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization depends on whether you are a principal applicant or qualifying family member.

  • Principal applicants: If you are granted T nonimmigrant status, USCIS will provide you with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) at the same time your Form I-914 application is approved. The information from your Form I-914 is used to generate the EAD, which is also known as a work permit. You do not need to file Form I-765 with the application for T nonimmigrant status.
Qualifying family members: If you are included as a qualifying family member on Form I-914, Supplement A, and you are living in the United States, you must submit Form I-765 if you want to apply for an EAD. You may file Form I-765 together with Form I-914, Supplement A, or at a later time. If you live outside the United States, you are not eligible to receive an EAD until you are lawfully admitted to the United States. Do not file Form I-765 if you are living outside the United States.

After You Obtain T Nonimmigrant Status

T nonimmigrant status is generally granted for 4 years. In certain situations, you may be able to extend your T nonimmigrant status.

Additionally, T nonimmigrants may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (a Green Card) after 3 years in T nonimmigrant status or once the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking is complete, whichever occurs earlier. For detailed information about the eligibility requirements, see Green Card for a Victim of Trafficking (T Nonimmigrant).

Eligibility for Services and Benefits

If you have T nonimmigrant status, you are eligible for a number of federally funded benefits and human services. If you do not yet have T nonimmigrant status but are a victim of trafficking, you may also be eligible for these benefits and services if:

Other Resources

  • U nonimmigrant status: Victims of human trafficking may also be eligible to apply for U nonimmigrant status (U visa). See Victims of Criminal Activity, U Nonimmigrant Status.
  • Continued Presence: ICE may grant Continued Presence for an initial period of 2 years to victims of human trafficking in order to provide immediate temporary relief from removal from the United States. Victims must meet certain requirements, and only a federal law enforcement agency (such as ICE or the FBI) may request Continued Presence for an individual. Those granted Continued Presence are eligible to apply for employment authorization as well as federal services and benefits. For more information, see ICE’s Continued Presence fact sheet (PDF).
  • USCIS resources: Find information for victims and organizations that help them at Resources for Victims of Human Trafficking & Other Crimes.
  • Information for law enforcement: Learn about law enforcement’s role in supporting applications for T nonimmigrant status and other relief for victims of human trafficking and other crimes at Information for Law Enforcement Agencies and Judges.

National Human Trafficking Hotline: To report suspected human trafficking and receive support and services to get help and information on how to stay safe, call 1-888-373-7888. This is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages. The hotline is operated by Polaris, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization.

Thursday, September 3, 2009
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05/10/2018
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