Chapter 3 - Documentation and Evidence for Principal Applicants
To apply for the T nonimmigrant status, the applicant must file an Application for T Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-914).
A. Burden of Proof
The applicant bears the burden of establishing eligibility for T nonimmigrant status. The applicant must meet all the eligibility requirements from the time of filing the application through adjudication.
B. Standard of Proof
The standard of proof is the amount of evidence needed to establish eligibility for the benefit sought. USCIS evaluates applications for T nonimmigrant status under the preponderance of the evidence standard. The applicant has the burden of demonstrating eligibility by a preponderance of the evidence.
USCIS reviews all evidence and may investigate any aspect of the application. Officers may use evidence previously submitted by the applicant for any immigration benefit or relief in evaluating the eligibility of an applicant for T nonimmigrant status. USCIS is not bound by previous factual determinations made in connection with a prior application or petition for any immigration benefit or relief. USCIS determines, in its sole discretion, the evidentiary value of previously or concurrently submitted evidence.
1. Any Credible Evidence Provision
Inability to Obtain Documentation and Evidence
USCIS must consider “any credible evidence” in determining whether the applicant has established eligibility for T nonimmigrant status. Applicants may experience difficulties obtaining traditional evidence, including documents, relevant to establishing their eligibility. USCIS applies the “any credible evidence” provision to victim-based filings in recognition of the difficulties victims may experience in obtaining such evidence.
Due to the nature of the victimization (including possible loss of control of personal possessions as a tactic to further force, fraud, or coercion), trafficking victims may not have the ability to obtain certain personal information that would otherwise be available to support a finding of eligibility. The trafficker may control access to, confiscate, or destroy relevant documentation, including identification, travel and employment documents, or immigration documents.
In determining the credibility of an applicant’s personal statement and other evidence and evaluating the sufficiency of evidence submitted, officers must consider the impact of trauma and victimization. Officers should also be mindful of the complex ways in which trauma may present for survivors of trafficking, including cognitive, emotional, sensory, and physical impacts.
Because trauma impacts every person differently, what is traumatizing to one person may not be traumatizing to another. In some cases, trauma may result in the applicant being unable to recollect or express all details of the victimization in a linear fashion. Officers must review inconsistencies in the applicant’s story over the course of the applicant’s immigration journey in light of this fact, particularly if the applicant has established that the applicant is a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons.
A person’s recollection of traumatic experiences may shift over time. As such, inconsistencies in the applicant’s account of victimization may not necessarily be indicators of fraud or lack of credibility but may instead be the result of a fragmented recollection due to trauma.
Weighing and Determining the Credibility of Evidence
Under the “any credible evidence” provision, officers should not require the applicant to submit particular types of evidence and may not deny applications for T nonimmigrant status due to the applicant’s failure to submit a particular type of evidence. Officers must examine each piece of evidence individually and within the context of the totality of the evidence for relevance, probative value, and credibility.
The determination of what evidence is credible and the weight given to each type of evidence is within the sole discretion of USCIS and determined on a case-by-case basis. Evidence that is credible generally contains information that is both internally consistent and externally consistent with other relevant evidence in the record.
However, USCIS makes determinations of credibility based on the particular facts and circumstances of the case, taking into account the limitations on the particular applicant’s ability to obtain evidence and the general considerations that pertain to victim-based cases, including the impact of trauma and victimization discussed above.
An officer may only deny an application on evidentiary grounds if the evidence the applicant submitted is not credible or otherwise does not meet the preponderance of the evidence standard to establish eligibility. Officers may not request or require that the applicant demonstrate the unavailability of a specific document, including traditionally understood “primary evidence.” An explanation from the applicant, however, regarding the unavailability of such documents may assist officers in adjudicating the case.
2. Initial Filing and Accompanying Evidence
When filing the Application for T Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-914), the applicant should submit:
Any credible evidence demonstrating that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements;
The applicant’s signed personal statement describing the facts of the victimization, compliance with reasonable requests for assistance from law enforcement (or a basis for why the applicant has not complied), and any other eligibility requirements; and
If the applicant is seeking a waiver of inadmissibility, an Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant (Form I-192), with the appropriate fee or request for a fee waiver and supporting evidence.
The applicant must also submit biometrics at a local Application Support Center.
3. Evidence from Law Enforcement Agency
An applicant may wish to submit evidence from a law enforcement agency (LEA) to help establish certain eligibility requirements for T nonimmigrant status. Evidence from an LEA is optional and USCIS does not give it any special evidentiary weight.
Law Enforcement Agency Endorsement
An applicant may provide an LEA endorsement by submitting Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons (Form I-914, Supplement B (PDF, 327.01 KB)). The Supplement B must be signed by a supervising official responsible for the investigation or prosecution of severe forms of trafficking in persons.
The LEA completing the Supplement B should attach the results of any name or database inquiries performed on the victim and describe the victimization (including dates where known) and the cooperation of the victim. USCIS, not the LEA, determines if the applicant was or is a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons and otherwise meets the eligibility requirements for T nonimmigrant status. Under federal law, the decision of whether to complete a Supplement B is within the discretion of the LEA. A formal investigation or prosecution is not required to complete a Supplement B.
An LEA may revoke or disavow the contents of a previously submitted Supplement B in writing. After revocation or disavowal, USCIS no longer considers the original Supplement B as supporting evidence.
Continued Presence Documentation
An applicant granted Continued Presence (CP) by the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking should submit documentation of the grant of CP. DHS may revoke CP if the recipient commits a crime, absconds, departs without obtaining advance parole, receives an immigration benefit, or is determined not to be a trafficking victim. Once CP is revoked, USCIS no longer considers CP as evidence of the applicant’s compliance with requests for assistance in the LEA’s investigation or prosecution.
4. Evidence of Immigration History
An applicant may also submit any evidence regarding entry, admission into, or permission to remain in the United States, or note that such evidence is contained within an applicant’s immigration file.
5. Evidence of Severe Form of Trafficking in Persons
The applicant must submit evidence that demonstrates that the applicant is or has been a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons. Except in instances of sex trafficking involving victims under 18 years of age, the applicant’s evidence should establish that the trafficker:
Used a particular action (recruitment, transportation, harboring, provision, obtaining, or in the case of sex trafficking, also patronizing or soliciting);
Employed a particular means (force, fraud, or coercion); and
Acted with the purpose of achieving an actual or intended end (commercial sex act, involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery).
If a victim has not performed labor or services or a commercial sex act, the victim must establish that the victim was recruited, transported, harbored, provided, or obtained (or in the case of sex trafficking, patronized or solicited) for the purpose of a commercial sex act or subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
The applicant may satisfy this requirement by submitting the following types of evidence:
For applicants who are children under 18 years old, a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services certifying that the child is a victim of trafficking;
Documentation of a grant of CP; or
Any other credible evidence, including but not limited to:
Copies of reimbursement forms for travel to and from court; and
Applicants should describe the steps they have taken to report the crime to an LEA and indicate whether any criminal records relating to the trafficking crime are available. If there has been civil litigation related to the trafficking, applicants may include this evidence as well.
6. Evidence of Physical Presence on Account of Trafficking
Evidence of Physical Presence in the United States
The applicant must submit evidence demonstrating that the applicant is physically present in the United States or at a port-of-entry on account of trafficking in persons. Because the regulatory language about the physical presence requirement is phrased in the present tense, USCIS considers the victim’s current situation, and whether the victim can establish current presence in the United States on account of trafficking. A victim who is liberated from trafficking is not exempt from the statutory requirement to show that the victim’s presence is on account of trafficking.
USCIS considers all evidence presented to determine physical presence, including the applicant’s responses on the application for T nonimmigrant status regarding when they escaped from the trafficker, what activities they have undertaken since that time, including any steps taken to deal with the consequences of having been trafficked, and the applicants’ ability to leave the United States.
Applicants may establish physical presence by submitting the following types of evidence:
Documentation of a grant of CP;
Documentation of entry into the United States or permission to remain in the United States, such as parole, or a notation that such evidence is within the applicant’s immigration records; or
Any other credible evidence, including a personal statement from the applicant, stating the date and place (if known) and the manner and purpose (if known) for which the applicant entered the United States and demonstrating that the applicant is now present on account of the trafficking.
Evidence to Establish the Direct Relationship between the Applicant’s Ongoing Presence and the Original Trafficking in Persons
An applicant may support the claim that the applicant’s continuing presence in the United States is directly related to the original trafficking in persons by providing any credible evidence. Officers should consider all evidence describing the ongoing impacts of trafficking on the applicant’s life at the time of application using a victim-centered approach.
The applicant cannot satisfy the physical presence requirement unless the evidence sufficiently establishes the connection between the specific impact of trauma on the applicant’s life at the time of filing and the applicant’s ongoing presence in the United States.
Evidence that USCIS may consider includes, but is not limited to:
A narrative within the personal statement explaining the physical health effects or psychological trauma the applicant has suffered as a result of the trafficking and a description of how this trauma impacts the applicant’s life at the time of filing;
Affidavits, evaluations, diagnoses, or other records from the applicant’s service providers (including therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers) documenting the therapeutic, psychological or medical services the applicant has sought or is currently accessing as a result of victimization and that describe how the applicant’s life is being impacted by the trauma at the time of filing;
Documentation of any additional stabilizing services and benefits, including financial, language, housing, or legal resources, the applicant is accessing or has accessed as a result of being trafficked. For those services and benefits not currently being accessed, the record should demonstrate how those past services and benefits related to trauma the applicant is experiencing at the time of filing;
Evidence demonstrating the applicant’s ability to access services in the United States or in the applicant’s home country;
Form I-914, Supplement B (PDF, 327.01 KB) or other statements from LEAs documenting the cooperation between the applicant and the law enforcement agency; and
Copies of news reports, law enforcement records, or court records.
Evidence of Entry or Reentry for Participation in Investigative or Judicial Processes
There is a general presumption that victims who have traveled outside of the United States at any time after the act of trafficking and then returned are not present on account of trafficking. To overcome this presumption, applicants must show that their reentry into the United States was the result of continued victimization or that they are a victim of a new incident of a severe form of trafficking in persons. This presumption also may be overcome when the applicant is allowed reentry in order to participate in investigative or judicial processes associated with an act or a perpetrator of trafficking.
To establish that they were allowed entry or reentry into the United States to participate in an investigative or judicial process associated with an act or a perpetrator of trafficking, applicants must show documentation of entry through a legal means such as parole and must submit evidence that the entry is for participation in investigative or judicial processes associated with an act or perpetrator of trafficking.
Such evidence may include:
Other evidence from an LEA to describe the victim’s participation;
A personal statement from the victim, or
Any other credible supporting documentation showing that the applicant’s entry was for participation in the investigative or judicial processes relating to the applicant’s trafficking.
If the applicant meets the physical presence requirement, the applicant must still satisfy all the other requirements for T nonimmigrant status, including compliance with reasonable requests for assistance from the LEA.
7. Evidence of Compliance with Law Enforcement Requests
Evidence to Establish Compliance
In determining whether an applicant complied with reasonable LEA requests for assistance, USCIS examines the totality of the circumstances, including several specific factors, and considers any credible evidence submitted.
To establish compliance with LEA requests for assistance, the applicant may submit a variety of evidence, including but not limited to:
Documentation of a grant of CP;
Email and letter correspondence showing reporting or communication between the applicant or the applicant’s attorney and an LEA;
Copies of phone and fax logs or email and letter correspondence showing contact with an LEA to report the victimization, or offer assistance, and evidence of any response received from the LEA;
A personal statement explaining the applicant’s efforts to report to an LEA and the response or lack of response from the LEA; and
Any credible evidence demonstrating the victim’s willingness to assist in the detection, investigation or prosecution of a severe form of trafficking in persons, such as:
Copies of reimbursement forms for travel to and from court;
Affidavits from the victim and other witnesses; and
Any other credible evidence.
If submitting a personal statement, the applicant should describe what the applicant has done to report the crime to an LEA and indicate whether criminal records relating to the trafficking crime are available. The applicant’s statement should also show that an LEA with the responsibility and authority for the detection, investigation, or prosecution of severe forms of trafficking in persons has information about such trafficking in persons, and that the applicant has complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of such acts of trafficking.
If the applicant did not report the crime, the applicant must provide an explanation to demonstrate that they qualify for an exemption due to age or an exception for trauma.
The absence of a Supplement B does not adversely affect an applicant who can meet the evidentiary burden with the submission of other evidence of sufficient reliability and relevance. Even though it is not required, USCIS considers an LEA endorsement to be a useful and convenient form of evidence, among other types of credible evidence. Even in the absence of an LEA endorsement, USCIS may contact the LEA that is involved in the case at its discretion.
Evidence to Establish Physical or Psychological Trauma Exception
To establish the trauma-based exception to the requirement to comply with reasonable LEA requests, an applicant may provide the following evidence:
An affirmative statement describing the trauma; or
A signed statement attesting to the victim’s mental state from a professional qualified to make such determinations, such as a medical professional, social worker, or victim advocate; and
Medical or psychological records that are relevant to the trauma; or
Any other credible evidence.
To establish that the person providing the signed attestation is qualified to make such a determination, the applicant should provide a description of the person’s qualifications or education or a description of the person’s contact and experience with the applicant.
A victim’s affidavit alone may satisfy the evidentiary burden. However, USCIS encourages applicants to submit additional relevant evidence.
Evidence of Age-Based Exemption
If an applicant was under the age of 18 at the time of victimization and is therefore exempt from the requirement to comply with reasonable law enforcement requests, the applicant should submit credible evidence of the applicant’s age, including an official copy of the applicant’s birth certificate, a passport, or a certified medical opinion, if available. The applicant may also submit other evidence of the applicant’s age.
8. Evidence of Extreme Hardship
Applicants must submit evidence that demonstrates they would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the United States. When evaluating whether removal would result in extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm, USCIS considers several factors.
The applicant may document extreme hardship through a personal statement or other evidence, including evidence from relevant country condition reports and any other public or private sources of information. The applicant may include evidence of hardship arising from circumstances surrounding the victimization and any other circumstances. USCIS does not consider evidence of hardship to persons other than the applicant unless the evidence demonstrates hardship to the applicant.
Applicants under the age of 18 are not exempt from the extreme hardship requirement. However, USCIS considers an applicant’s age, maturity, and personal circumstances (among other factors) when evaluating the extreme hardship requirement.
[^ 1] See the Form I-914 webpage for more information on filing. There is no filing fee associated with this application.
[^ 3] See INA 291. See 8 CFR. 103.2(b)(1). See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(5). See Volume 1, General Policies and Procedures, Part E, Adjudications, Chapter 4, Burden and Standards of Proof [1 USCIS-PM E.4].
[^ 4] See Matter of Chawathe (PDF), 25 I&N Dec. 369, 376 (AAO 2010). See Matter of Martinez (PDF), 21 I&N Dec. 1035, 1036 (BIA 1997). See Volume 1, General Policies and Procedures, E, Adjudications, Chapter 4, Burden and Standards of Proof, Section B, Standards of Proof [1 USCIS-PM E.4(B)].
[^ 5] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(5).
[^ 6] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(5).
[^ 7] See Matter of Chawathe (PDF), 25 I&N Dec. 369, 376 (AAO 2010).
[^ 8] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(5).
[^ 9] See 8 CFR 106.2(a)(11).
[^ 10] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(2).
[^ 11] See 8 CFR 103.16.
[^ 12] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(3).
[^ 13] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(3)(i).
[^ 14] If a certifying official discovers information regarding a victim, crime, or declaration that the agency believes USCIS should be aware of, or if the official wishes to withdraw the certification, the official should contact USCIS using the directions outlined in the Form I-914 Supplement B instructions.
[^ 15] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(3)(ii).
[^ 16] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(3)(iii). See 28 CFR 110.35 (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s authority to grant Continued Presence).
[^ 17] See 8 CFR 214.11(d)(3)(iv).
[^ 18] See 8 CFR 214.11(f).
[^ 19] See 8 CFR 214.11(f)(1).
[^ 20] See 8 CFR 214.11(f)(1).
[^ 21] See 81 FR 92266, 92273 (PDF) (Dec. 19, 2016).
[^ 22] See 8 CFR 214.11(g)(4).
[^ 23] See 28 CFR 1100.35.
[^ 24] See 8 CFR 212(d)(5).
[^ 25] See 8 CFR 214.11(g)(4).
[^ 26] Under 8 CFR 214.11(g)(1)(iv).
[^ 27] See 8 CFR 214.11(g)(2).
[^ 28] See 8 CFR 214.11(g)(2)(iii).
[^ 29] See 8 CFR 214.11(g)(3).
[^ 30] See Chapter 2, Eligibility Requirements, Section D, Requests for Law Enforcement Assistance, Subsection 2, Totality of the Circumstances Test [3 USCIS-PM B.2(D)(2)].
[^ 31] See 28 CFR 1100.35.
[^ 32] See Chapter 3, Documentation and Evidence for Principal Applicants, Section C, Evidence, Subsection 2, Initial Filing and Accompanying Evidence [3 USCIS-PM B.3(C)(2)].
[^ 33] See 8 CFR 214.11(f)(1). See 8 CFR 214.11(h)(1) (requiring that the applicant has had contact with an LEA regarding the acts of a severe form of trafficking in persons).
[^ 34] See 8 CFR 214.11(h)(3)(iii). See 8 CFR 214.11(h)(4).
[^ 35] See 81 FR 92266, 92276 (PDF) (Dec. 19, 2016).
[^ 36] See 81 FR 92266, 92276 (PDF) (Dec. 19, 2016).
[^ 37] See 8 CFR 214.11(h)(4)(i).
[^ 38] See 81 FR 92266, 92277 (PDF) (Dec. 19, 2016).
[^ 39] See 81 FR 92266, 92277 (PDF) (Dec. 19, 2016).
[^ 40] See 8 CFR 214.11(h). A certified medical opinion may include medical evaluations, dental assessments, and x-ray records.
[^ 41] See Chapter 2, Eligibility, Section E, Extreme Hardship, Subsection 2, Factors [3 USCIS-PM B.2(E)(2)].
[^ 42] See 8 CFR 214.11(i)(3). See Volume 9, Waivers and Other Forms of Relief, Part O, Victims of Trafficking, Chapter 3, INA 212(d)(13) Waivers, Section A, Waiver Eligibility [9 USCIS-PM O.3(A)].
[^ 43] See 81 FR 92266, 92277 (PDF) (Dec. 19, 2016).