Everything You Need to Know about the T Visa in the U.S.

Posted by Frank Gogol

T Visa is a really useful way for certain individuals who have been subjected to severe victimization to enter into the US. The United States government will allow them to stay for a certain period. But which group of victims can apply for the T nonimmigrant status? In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the T Visa.

What is a T Visa?

T Visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa awarded to a specific group of people who were victims of human trafficking and have helped the law enforcement agencies in cracking down the activity.

With this visa, the visa holder can stay and work in the United States for up to four years, after which he or she needs to depart or apply for a change of status.

The T visa status was introduced in October of 2002, along with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA). Since then, the country has been providing immigration relief to combat human trafficking. In the same year, it was estimated that as many as 50,000 were trafficked into the United States illegally, mostly women and children.

The US Federal law defines two types of trafficking as a “serious form of trafficking”:

  •   Sex trafficking
  • Labor trafficking

So if someone is affected by any of the two, then he/she will be eligible for the T visa immigration benefit. But there is also another type of trafficking relief visa you need to know: the “U” visa.

Difference Between T And U Visa

T and U visas were created to combat human trafficking in the United States. But there’s a significant difference between the two visas you need to know.

The main difference is that the T visa applicants must have been trafficked into the United States. They were victimized from their home country and trafficking into the US, with or without their knowledge. But in case of a U visa petition, the applicants might have come to the US for other reasons and fell victim to the trafficking trap in any part of the US. So they weren’t trafficked into the country, while the T visa applicants were.

The secondary difference is: In the case of a U visa, the victim or the beneficiary of the visa is supposed to cooperate with the authorities in tracking down the crime. But in case of a T visa, the victim may wish not to cooperate with the authorities due to personal or societal reasons. They will still be, however, asked to provide trafficking information.

Who Qualifies For A T Visa?

To qualify for the T visa, the person must have satisfied all of the conditions laid out in VTVPA. At a bare minimum, the person:

  •   Should be trafficked into the United States.
  • Has survived a severe form of trafficking or attempted trafficking.
  •   Is present in the United States or a port of entry because of the trafficking. He or she must have remained in the country as a result of the most recent act of trafficking.
  • Has helped the authorities in investigating the trafficking activity or prosecution, if above 18 years of age.
  • Is at the risk of extreme hardship if deported from the United States and can demonstrate the same.

In addition to the above, the person seeking T visa status must be admissible into the United States on other grounds, i.e., on review of criminal history, immigration violations, medical check-ups, etc.

Not only the victims, but their family members and immediate relatives would also benefit from this relief program. Only these individuals can receive the derivative T visa:

  • Spouse of the victim
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21 at the time their visa application was submitted
  • Parents of the T visa beneficiary provided he or she is below the age of 21 at the time of application
  • Unmarried siblings below 18 years of age
  • Minor or adult children of immediate family members of the beneficiary

Limitations and Privileges of a T Visa

If you’re applying for the T visa, then you must know what you can and cannot do with this nonimmigrant visa status. We’ll list it as limitations and privileges.

Privileges of T Visa

  • You can stay in the US for up to 4 years.
  • You can engage in employment and earn money
  • You can bring your family members to the US
  • You may wish not to provide support to the authorities (if under 18 years of age), while it is mandatory of U visa applicants
  • T visa does not require a law enforcement certification
  • Claim one of the most generous waivers in the American immigration system
  • Eligibility for some federal benefits like cash assistance or food stamps

Limitations of T Visa

  •  There are only 5000 visas granted per year. So if you’re the 5001, you may not be eligible for it.
  • You will be deported if authorities find any wrongdoing from your end

Documents Required for T Visa

To apply for a T visa, you need to submit multiple forms. Those forms are:

  • Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status
  • Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons
  • Form I-912, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
  • Copies of evidence suggesting that you meet other eligibility requirements
  • 3 recent passport size photographs

How to Apply for a T Visa?

Here are the steps involved in applying for a T Visa:

Complete Form I-914

The very first thing to do is download and complete Form I-914. This is a 10-page document asking you about your personal details, signature, and declarations. All questions are self-explanatory, and you can reference the instructions sheet if needed. If you’re using an interpreter, then he must provide declarations and signatures too on Part G of the form.

In this form, you’ll also be asked to provide a personal narrative of the trafficking incident you went through. If possible and required, you need to provide evidence of that.

Get T Visa declaration

You need to obtain a T Visa declaration. This must be from a federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial law enforcement agency or government official. Attach it as Supplement B, which is part of Form I-914 form you just downloaded. This is not a mandatory form, but it is beneficial in speeding up your application. The officer, through this letter, declares that you helped them in the trafficking investigation.

Complete Form I-192

T and U visa applicants use the Form I-192 to enter the United States in advance if they are inadmissible for some reason. This is an 11-page document and will ask you about your personal details and biographic information. Please refer to the instructions sheet in case of confusion.

Complete Form I-914, Supplement A if required

If you’re planning to bring in your eligible family members, then you’ll also be filing the I-914 Supplement A, Application for Immediate Family Member of T-1 Recipient.

After completion, you need to visit the nearest USCIS service center and apply in person.

T Visa Cost and Processing Time

Form I-914 is free of charge. But you might have to pay for biometrics and Form I-912, which costs $930. You can apply for fee waivers by filing Form I-912 separately.

The processing time for a T visa varies from case to case. The USCIS doesn’t provide an estimate either. So be in touch with an official or your attorney on this.

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Follow the details that we provided above, and we are sure you will be able to file the T visa without any hurdles. In case of any queries, we will recommend you to hire an attorney.

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