According to the International Labour Organization, more than 20 million people are affected by trafficking each year. In response to such devastating statistics, in October 2000, Congress created a T nonimmigrant visa by passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA). This piece of legislation was designed to protect victims of trafficking, as well as aid in the investigation and prosecution of human traffickers.
Unfortunately, human trafficking exists today, and has for a long time. Human trafficking is considered modern-day slavery, and often, the victims of human trafficking are lured with false promises of employment and a better life. Not knowing better, many victims, usually from poor families and areas of the world, voluntarily partake on the journey to a different country for a better life. In the U.S., T visas are granted to those victims, to remain in the U.S. to assist in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking activities.
In order to be eligible for a T visa, you must be 1) a victim of trafficking, 2) be in the U.S., or a port of entry due to trafficking, 3) comply with law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking, 4) demonstrate that you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the U.S., and 5) are admissible to the U.S. Each element of this visa must be met to be granted a T visa. So, for example, if you are inadmissible to the U.S. for a criminal conviction, then you would not qualify for a T visa, unless a waiver is filed and granted by USCIS.
In addition to the principal victim of human trafficking, family members may also be eligible to obtain this benefit. If you are under 21, you may apply on the behalf of your spouse, children, parents, and unmarried siblings under 18 years of age. If you are 21 or older, then you are limited to applying for your spouse and children only. Obtaining a T visa may also lead to a green card, if certain conditions are made.
Being a victim of human trafficking is a terrible experience, so do not be a victim of an unexperienced, immigration practitioner that is not an attorney. So, if you or anyone you know is a victim of human trafficking, speak to an experienced attorney to help you through this process.