How to Get a T Visa in the United States

Human trafficking is a phenomena happening all over the world. In order to help the victims of criminal activities and human trafficking, the U.S. Congress passed in 2000 the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, along with the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act.

This is how the U.S were able to develop two types of visas for the non-US citizens that are subject to this sort of crimes in the U.S:

  • T Visa- victims of human trafficking
  • U Visa- Victims of criminal activity that have been through mental and physical abuse

What is the T visa?

The U.S non-immigrant visa, the T visa is released to victims or human trafficking, children and adults alike.

As there are so many people that get to the U.S. illegally and against their will, the U.S. actually gives them the chance to become legal with this type of visa.

There are 3 elements defining the human trafficking for the case of T visa:

  • Process of trafficking- it has to include recruitment, transferring, harboring, transportation or even receiving one against their will
  • Means of trafficking- this may include threat, coercion, abduction, threat, deceit, deception or abuse of power
  • Goal of trafficking- this has to include violence, pornography, prostitution, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, slavery or involuntary servitude

Anyone proving at least one of the aforementioned situations may be declared as victim of human trafficking. In the case of children, the Process or Goal may be enough. In addition, one has to be trafficked into the U.S. or be in the country.

Even though the victim doesn’t have to know that he/she is being trafficked, it’s essential for the victim to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies throughout the investigation.

Once a victim of human trafficking receives the T visa, he/she is going to obtain the benefits similar to those of refugees. The T Visa holder is also going to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which gives him/her the right to work in all legal activities, for any period of time.

What are the types of T visas?

There are various types of T visas, even though the principal visa is for the victim of the human trafficking:

  • T-1 visa is only for the victim of the human trafficking (the main visa holder)
  • T-2 visa is for the spouse of the T-1 visa holder. The marriage has to be recognized by the U.S. (a valid marriage certificate is required). No several spouses are allowed
  • T-3 visa is for the children of the T-1 visa holder (a valid birth certificate is needed as well)
  • T-4 visa addresses to the parents of the T-I visa holder. However, the T-1 visa holder has to be under 21 years old in order for the parents to qualify for the T-4 visa.
  • T-5 visa is for the unmarried siblings of the T-1 visa holder. The T-1 visa holder has to be under 21 years old, whereas the siblings must be under 18 years old.

Who qualifies for a T visa?

In order to be eligible for the T visa, you need to accomplish multiple requirements:

  • You must have been trafficked into the U.S. but you must also be within the U.S., the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa or at a U.S. port of entry
  • You must be a victim of human trafficking (go over the previous conditions once again)
  • You must prove that sending you back from the U.S. is going to harm you. Here’s what you can do:
    • You probe that your government isn’t going to protect you enough
    • You prove that you’re not going to get medical assistance as you do in the U.S.
    • You prove that you’re going to be stigmatized in your home country as a victim of human trafficking
  • You must cooperate with law enforcement agencies with their investigation. You’re not going to have to cooperate if:
    • You’re under 18 years’ old
    • You’re a victim of mental or physical trauma
  • You didn’t break any immigration rules and you have to be admissible in the U.S.

How to apply for the T visa?

the procedure is quite simple and the T visa is a bit different than other types of application procedures.

You don’t need to go through a U.S. Embassy, but simply apply to the Vermont Service Center or USCIS>

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Complete the Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant status
  • Fill in the Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons. This certification is going to prove that you’re a victim of human trafficking
  • You need 3 passport sized photographs (make sure they complete the US Visa Photograph Requirements)
  • Any other evidence that proves that you meet the eligibility criteria

You’re not going to pay any application fees. Even if the T-visa is free, you’re going to have to pay the fees for filling the forms. However, you may not pay the fees if you may file the form to waive them (Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver).

How long do you have to wait until the T-visa comes out?

The processing time for this type of visa may vary. As USCIS isn’t going to be able to give you an estimate or a time, you’re just going to have to wait for the visa to come out. The processing time varies from person to person and it all depends on the evidence that you’re providing.

What’s the validation time of the T-visa?

As it’s similar to the U-visa, the T-visa is also valid for 4 years or so. During the 4 years of validation, the T visa holder may very well open a bank account, follow some vocational or academic study, get a driver’s license and get a job.

Once the visa expires, the T-visa holder has to go back to his/her home country. Should you not go back, you’re going to have to face the legal problems. In some situations, one may apply for an extension or change the status with USCIS.

What can you do to get a Green Card on a T visa?

If you’re the T visa holder, you may file for the permanent residence and get a Green Card later on.

Here are the requirements you need to meet:

  • You must pass as a good character
  • You must have been in the U.S. for minim 3 years on a T-visa
  • You must be admissible in the U.S.
  • You must have helped with the investigation for the human trafficking crime you were a victim of
  • You must prove that you’re going to go through extreme trauma if you’d go back to your home country