T Visas for Victims of Human Trafficking
What is a T visa?
A T visa is a non-immigrant visa available to victims of human trafficking.
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is “a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to compel individuals to provide labor or services, including commercial sex. Traffickers often take advantage of vulnerable individuals, including those lacking lawful immigration status.”1 A common human trafficking scenario involves prostitution, when a vulnerable person (such as a teenager or an undocumented immigrant) is coerced into working as a prostitute.2 Another common scenario involves domestic workers, who are often recruited from other countries under false pretenses, may be paid little to nothing for their services, and may be denied access to and help from the outside world.3
What are the requirements for a T visa?
In order to obtain a T visa, an applicant must prove that he or she:
- Is or was a victim of human trafficking, as defined by USCIS (see above);
- Is in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking;
- Is complying with any reasonable request from law enforcement to aid in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (unless the applicant is under 18 and/or is unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma, in which case this requirement may be excused);
- Would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual or severe harm if removed from the United States; and
- Is admissible to the United States (if the applicant is inadmissible, there may be a waiver available which would allow the applicant to obtain the visa despite the ground(s) of inadmissibility).
How long is the T visa valid?
T visas are issued for up to four (4) years. In some situations, a T visa can be renewed.
Can a T visa holder obtain a green card?
After either three years have passed or the investigation or prosecution into the applicant’s human trafficking case is complete, whichever occurs first, a T visa holder may apply for a green card if the following additional conditions are met:
- The applicant was lawfully admitted to the United States in the T-1 visa category;
- The applicant continues to maintain T-1 visa status at the time of the green card application;
- The applicant has shown good moral character since being admitted in T-1 status, and the applicant continues to show good moral character while the green card application is processing;
- The applicant is admissible to the United States (if the applicant is inadmissible, he or she may be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility); and
- The applicant meets one of the following conditions:
- The applicant has complied with any reasonable requests for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking since first being admitted in T-1 status, and until the green card application is adjudicated;
- The applicant would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if he or she was removed from the United States; OR
- The applicant was under eighteen (18) years of age at the time of trafficking.
Can family members of T visa applicants or T visa holders apply for a T visa as well?
If a T visa applicant or T visa holder’s parent, unmarried sibling under eighteen (18) years of age, or the child of any age or marital status of a family member who has already been granted derivative (i.e. based off of the original applicant’s status) T visa status is in danger of retaliation as a result of the applicant or T visa holder’s escape from trafficking or cooperation with the investigation or prosecution into human trafficking, they may be granted a T visa.
In cases where the T visa applicant or T visa holder’s family member is not in danger of retaliation, then they may apply for the following family members: if the T visa applicant or T visa holder is under twenty-one (21) years old, then he or she may apply for his or her spouse, unmarried child(ren) under twenty-one (21) years old, parent(s), or unmarried sibling(s) under eighteen (18) years old; if the T visa applicant or T visa holder is over twenty-one (21) years old, then he or she may apply for his or her spouse or unmarried child(ren) under twenty-one (21) years old.
Can family members who obtain T visas eventually obtain their green cards?
Once a family member has been granted T visa status, he or she may eventually be eligible for a green card, provided that the principal T visa holder has applied for or been granted a green card, the principal T visa holder is eligible for a green card, and the family member applying is admissible to the United States (or is eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility).
 USCIS, “Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status.” https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-human-trafficking-t-nonimmigrant-status (accessed on July 24, 2019).
 See e.g. Fortune Magazine, “Human Trafficking is an Epidemic in the U.S. It’s Also Big Business.” https://fortune.com/2019/04/14/human-sex-trafficking-us-slavery/ (accessed on July 24, 2019).
 See e.g. The Hill, “Human Trafficking Survivor Describes Forced Labor Ordeal in the U.S.” https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/410406-cameroon-woman-describes-her-forced-labor-ordealin-america (accessed on July 24, 2019).