Visas allow individuals who are not citizens to enter the United States. Obtaining a visa is often the first step a person takes toward eventually becoming a citizen of the United States.
With limited exceptions, there are limited numbers available for each visa type. One visa option available to non-citizens who are victims of human trafficking is the T-visa. There are only 5,000 T-visas available each year to principal applicants. However, derivative family members are not included in that number, which means derivative family members can still benefit even if the category becomes oversubscribed. Since the start of the T-visa program in 2008, the annual limit of 5,000 principal T-visas has never been reached.
How the T-visa works
The T visa is a nonimmigrant status, meaning it is temporary in nature. T-nonimmigrant status is a lawful status for 4 years and, generally, cannot be renewed. The T-visa is available to those victims of labor or sex trafficking who have reported their traffickers to law enforcement. However, unlike the U-visa, which requires a signed law enforcement certification, the T-visa does not. Further, if the trafficking occurred before the applicant was 18, there is not even a requirement to report the trafficking to law enforcement.
Benefits of the T-visa
The biggest benefit of receiving T-nonimmigrant status is that it provides a pathway to permanent residency. Once the applicant has received T-nonimmigrant status, they are eligible for adjustment of status after 3 years in T-nonimmigrant status. However, in most cases, the applicant is eligible for early adjustment of status, provided there is no ongoing investigation into the trafficking.
Other benefits of T-nonimmigrant status include the ability to forgive nearly any inadmissibility, such as false claims of U.S. citizenship and criminal grounds of inadmissibility. Also, the list of family members who can derive status is more expansive than other visa types and includes spouses, children, parents, and siblings.
Eligibility for the T-visa
To be eligible to get a T-visa, a person must be physically present in the United States and have been a victim of sex or labor trafficking within the United States. Generally, they must be willing to report the trafficking to law enforcement and cooperate with all requests from authorities. The applicant must also show not receiving the visa would result in hardship.