Victims of human trafficking who help investigators bust the traffickers may be eligible for permanent resident status and eventually citizenship in the United States by applying for a T-visa
Congress created T nonimmigrant status in October 2000 when it passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The legislation is part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. It empowers law enforcement to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes. The law recognizes the fact victims are unlikely to want to cooperate if they are sent back to their home countries where they could face danger.
Human trafficking is described as “modern-day slavery” by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. Department of State estimates up to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year. The traffickers often seek to lure migrants by promising employment and a better life. The traffickers habitually use force, coercion, or fraud to inflict forced labor on their victims. In many cases, victims end up as sex workers against their will.
Federal law recognizes sex trafficking whose victims are often under 18, and labor trafficking.
The victims of these heinous crimes are encouraged to contact law enforcement whenever it’s safe to do so. The victims may be eligible for T visas when they end up in the United States.
USCIS has issued T visas to the victims of trafficking for more than a decade. T visas are available to victims and their family members including spouses, children, or their parents when victims are minors.
T visas are granted for four years. After three years, the visa holder can apply for a green card and citizenship. T visa holders are eligible for federally funded benefits and services.
You may be eligible for a T visa if you were a victim of a severe form of trafficking. Applicants must be inside the United States, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry because of trafficking.
To qualify for a T visa, you must have complied with any reasonable request from law enforcement officers who are investigating or prosecuting human traffickers, unless you were under 18 or unable to cooperate.
You should show that you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the United States.
The immigration attorneys at Gardner & Mendoza recognize the importance of protecting victims of criminal activities whether via U visas or T visas. We can help you through your difficult journey and protect your status in the United States. Please contact us or call (757) 464-9224.
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