Information for Law Enforcement Agencies and Judges
Immigration Relief: A Critical Tool for Law Enforcement
Immigration relief is a tool that you can use to help eliminate human trafficking and fight crime in local communities. One reason why victims may not come forward to work with you is that foreign victims of human trafficking and other crimes may not have legal status in the United States. Traffickers often use victims’ lack of legal status to exploit and control them. Also, without legal status, victims may not be able to stay in the United States to continue working with you.
Victims may qualify for immigration relief, often with help from law enforcement at the federal, state, local, or tribal level, as well as judges. Immigration relief provides a way for victims to feel secure and stabilize their status in the United States, which means that it is a critical tool in helping victims become strong and active participants in an investigation or prosecution.
Types of Immigration Benefits
There are three types of immigration benefits that encourage victims to come forward and work with you.
USCIS administers two of these benefits:
- T nonimmigrant status, also known as the T visa, is for human trafficking victims. Victims can remain and work in the U.S. for four years (which may be renewed in limited circumstances; victims can also apply for a Green Card, also known as adjusting status).
- U nonimmigrant status, also known as the U visa, is for victims of a variety of crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, involuntary servitude, and other serious offenses. Victims can remain and work in the U.S. for four years (which may be renewed in limited circumstances; victims can also apply for a Green Card, also known as adjusting status).
Both require the victim to assist or cooperate with you in an investigation or prosecution (except for T visa cases where the victim is under 18 years of age or suffers severe trauma).
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) administers one immigration benefit for victims:
- Continued Presence (PDF) (CP) is a temporary status for victims identified by law enforcement as victims of human trafficking to remain in the U.S. during an investigation. Victims can remain and work in the U.S. for one year (which may be renewed).
Law Enforcement Role: Declaration or Certification
Even though the victim (or their advocate or attorney) completes the main portion of a T or U visa application, you play a role in telling USCIS how the victim has assisted you. The victim may ask you to fill out a USCIS law enforcement declaration or certification, which informs USCIS about the victim in your case. If you choose to fill out and sign the declaration or certification, you will provide it to the victim (or their advocate or attorney) who will submit it to USCIS along with other paperwork and evidence.
Signing a declaration (Form I-914 Supplement B): Used for the T visa, this declaration is not required evidence but is useful for the application. The agencies that can sign the declaration include any federal, state, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors and judges who have the authority to detect, investigate, or prosecute human trafficking. This includes, but is not limited to, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and the Department of Labor.
Signing a certification (Form I-918 Supplement B): This certification is required evidence for the U visa, and USCIS cannot process the victim’s case without it. Certifying agencies can sign the certification. These include federal, state, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies; prosecutors and judges; and other agencies that have jurisdiction to detect, investigate, or prosecute in their respective areas of expertise, such as child or family protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor.
Important Things to Remember
- You always have discretion to complete a declaration or certification, but remember that your agency may have its own policy about filling out the declaration or certification.
- You are under no legal obligation to complete the declaration or certification.
- You can provide the declaration or certification even if there is no arrest, no charges filed, no formal investigation, no prosecution, no conviction, or even if the case is closed. You can provide a declaration or certification for cases that occurred months or years ago, as long as the victim was working with you.
- There is no federal statute of limitations on when a crime occurred and when a victim may be eligible for these immigration benefits.
- You can provide the declaration or certification when the victim has worked with you in the past, if the victim is currently working with you, or if the victim is likely to work with you in the investigation or prosecution of the crime committed against the victim.
- Only USCIS has the authority to grant or deny a person’s T or U visa application. The declaration and certification form alone does not grant any immigration benefit or legal status in the U.S. It is only one piece of evidence USCIS reviews before making a decision on an application. USCIS requires additional evidence of eligibility and does full background checks.
- You will not be liable for future conduct of the victim.
Withdrawing a Declaration or Certification
The victim is required to continue to support the investigation or prosecution as long as it is reasonable. You can withdraw your declaration or certification after it has been submitted to USCIS for any reason, including when the victim unreasonably refuses to assist you. You should notify USCIS in writing and include the victim’s name, date of birth, and A-File number (if available), along with a description of the reason for the withdrawal.
Send your withdrawal to:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Vermont Service Center
ATTN: T/U-Visa Unit
75 Lower Welden St.
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001
Resources for Law Enforcement Agencies and Judges
DHS Resources about Immigration Relief for Victims
- Video on the immigration relief process and paperwork for law enforcement
- Roll-Call Video (Part 1) featuring law enforcement experts explaining human trafficking
- Roll-Call Video (Part 2) featuring law enforcement experts explaining immigration relief
- Information for Law Enforcement Officials (PDF)
- Pamphlet on victim support (PDF) for law enforcement, first responders, and healthcare professionals
- Pamphlet on victim support for judges (PDF)
- Immigration Options for Victims of Crimes Brochure (T Visa, U Visa, and VAWA) (PDF, 272 KB)
- Brochure on Continued Presence (PDF)
- U visa law enforcement certification guide (PDF)
- Survivor video
You can also email inquiries to LawEnforcement_UTVAWA.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources about Human Trafficking
- Call the Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Tipline at 1-866-347-2423 or submit a tip online at www.ice.gov/tips to contact the ICE HSI special agent and victim assistance specialist in your area or to report tips. Highly trained law enforcement specialists are available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to receive human trafficking tips and to quickly disseminate leads to on-duty human trafficking investigators throughout the nation and around the world. Anonymous tips may be reported on the online form and via the toll-free Tipline.
- The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Web-based human trafficking training course teaches law enforcement officers how to recognize human trafficking during routine duties, protect victims, and initiate human trafficking investigations.
- Indicator cards list common indicators of trafficking and fit in a wallet, pocket, or glove compartment.
- The Blue Campaign is the unified voice for DHS’ efforts to combat human trafficking and provides information on human trafficking.
Anti-human trafficking task forces comprise federal, state, local, county, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing victim services. To find out whether there is a task force in your area, visit the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Initiative Web page.