Victims of Human Trafficking, T Nonimmigrant Status
The Department of Justice will issue T visas. This was created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) to protect women, children and men who are the victims of human trafficking. The T visa will allow victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons to remain in the United States. They will assist federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases. According to U.S. government estimates, 45,000 to 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually. They are trapped in modern-day slavery-like situations such as forced prostitution.
“One of our greatest challenges is identifying those responsible for these unspeakable crimes,”
In March, combating human trafficking would be a priority of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice issued guidance to federal prosecutors describing the new crimes under the TVPA. The Attorney General urged coordination among the F.B.I., I.N.S., U.S. Attorneys Offices and the Civil Rights and Criminal Divisions of the Department of Justice.
The T visa is specifically designed for certain human trafficking victims. They cooperate with law enforcement against those responsible for their enslavement. The statute allows victims to remain in the United States if it is determined that such victims could suffer, “extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm” if returned to their home countries. After three years in T status, victims of human trafficking may apply for permanent residency. In addition, the regulation allows victims to apply for non-immigrant status for their spouses and children. Victims under the age of 21 may apply for non-immigrant status for their parents as well.
“The T visa is a powerful new tool to protect the most vulnerable victims and prevent future trafficking,” said USCIS. “It will help BCIS put the criminals responsible for these horrific acts out of business and behind bars.”
Since the passage of the TVPA, the Department of Justice has encountered many individuals who needed protection from retaliation and continued victimization by people who trafficked them into the United States.
Under the statutes of the TVPA, those convicted of trafficking offenses may receive up to 20 years in prison. Some cases would result in life sentences. Preexisting servitude statutes carried a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. The new statutes created by the TVPA are designed to reach the subtle means of coercion that traffickers often use to bind their victims in service. Such means include the seizure of immigration documents, psychological coercion, and trickery.
Trafficking in persons includes the recruitment or transportation of persons. This can be through force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of modern-day slavery or involuntary servitude. Victims of this growing transnational crime problem are predominantly women and children. They are trafficked into a wide variety of exploitative settings, ranging from the sex industry to domestic servitude to forced labor on farms and in factories.
It is not just sex trafficking that will qualify people for the T Visa, but also employment trafficking. Therefore, if you have had years of work without pay (or much less depending) and/or been doing basically slave labor, this could be your visa.