Human trafficking is a shocking crime that violates human rights. Every year, a large number of people fall victim to human traffickers. Human traffickers deceive their victims with false promises such as a better life and job, leading to the abuse of victims. In other words, during this inhuman catastrophe, traffickers deceive people such as women and children, smuggle them into the country, and abuse them.
The US T Visa allows victims to stay in the United States and assist in investigations to identify offenders. An important difference between this visa and other nonimmigrant visas is that the T visa applicant must be in the United States when applying.

What is a US T visa?

In short, the US T visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to victims of human trafficking. This visa is divided into T-1 to T-5 sub-categories:

  • T1: This visa is for the principal applicant, and other visas are defined for his/her dependents.
  • T-2: Is for the legal spouse of the primary visa holder. A valid marriage certificate must prove their marriage.
  • T-3: This visa is for children of the primary visa holder. Their relationship with the T-1 visa holder is proven by presenting a birth certificate.
  • T-4: If the main visa holder is under 21, the T-4 visa will be issued to his/her parents.
  • T-5: This visa is issued to unmarried siblings of the principal visa holder, provided they are under 18 and the holder of the T1 visa is under the age of 21.

Unfortunately, the issuance of a T visa is subject to numerical restrictions. About 5,000 T-visas are issued by USCIS each fiscal year. If the number of qualified applications exceeds the annual cap, USCIS can grant EAD to the applicants so that they can work in the United States and then issue T visas.

US T Visa (T1 to T5) For Victims of Human Trafficking & Their Family Members

What are the requirements for a US T visa?

To answer this question, we will first define human trafficking precisely. To be qualified for a T visa, at least one of the following must be true of you:

  • Human trafficking involves recruiting victims, transferring them, sheltering, or receiving someone against their will.
  • The human trafficker must transfer the victims through means such as coercion, abduction, threats, or deception.
  • Human trafficking must be carried out for purposes such as pornography, prostitution, violence, forced labor, sexual abuse, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, or slavery.

Besides, the principal visa applicant must be in the US, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a US port of entry when applying for a visa. The victim should also be involved in investigations to identify the perpetrators. However, people under the age of 18 or those who have suffered severe physical or psychological trauma as a result of this crime are exempt from this condition. In addition to the conditions mentioned, you should also pay attention to the following:

  • You have to prove that bringing you back from the United States will do you a great disservice. For example:
    • You cannot receive medical care in your country as in the United States.
    • The government of your country is not able to protect you.
    • You are known as a victim of human trafficking in your country.
  • You must also abide by immigration laws in the United States.

How to apply for a T visa?

The application process for a T visa is not very complicated. You must first submit Form I-914, Application for Nonimmigrant Status to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS. Appeals must be submitted to the USCIS Vermont Service Center.

In addition to Form I-914, the following must be provided:

  •  Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons
  • Three passport-sized photos
  • Evidence that you are eligible for this visa.

If the petition is approved, Form I-797, Notice of Action, will be issued to the applicant.  Depending on the age, the principal applicants for a T1 visa can also apply for a visa for their dependents.

Applicant’s dependentsApplicant age

Spouse (T-2), Children (T-3), Parents (T-4), Unmarried siblings under age 18 (T-5)

Under the age of 21
Spouse (T-2) and Children (T-3)Age 21 or older

Parents (T-4) and Unmarried siblings under age 18 (T-5)

Any age

If a T1 visa holder wants to apply for a family member visa, he or she must submit Form I-914, Supplement A, Application for Immediate Family Member of T-1 Recipient to the USCIS Vermont Service Center. Before this petition is approved, USCIS will send a Notice of Action on how to go to the nearest USCIS branch and take the fingerprint of family members. If there is no USCIS office in your country, you can go to the US Embassy to take the fingerprint. For information on how to set a fingerprint appointment for a Form I-914, Supplement A, go to the US Embassy website in your home country. Form I-797, Notice of Action, will be granted after the USCIS approves your petition.

Once the necessary approvals have been issued, the visa application process for T2 to T5 visas is similar to the other US non-immigrant visas:

1. Completing the DS-160 Form

This form is available online and will contain some questions about the purpose of your trip to the US. While submitting this form, you must also attach your photo. After submitting the form, a confirmation page will be sent to you, which you must save.

2. Visa Application Fee

The cost of applying for this visa, like most nonimmigrant visas, is the US $160. Keep the receipt with you after payment.

3. Preparation of required documents

Applicants for these visas must provide the following documents:

  • Valid passport: The validity of your passport must be at least six months beyond the expiration date of your visa.
  • DS-160 Form confirmation page
  • Receipt of payment of visa application fee
  • Applicant photo
  • Form I-797, Notice of Action

4. Schedule an interview appointment

All US visa applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must attend a visa interview at the embassy. You must apply for a visa through the US Embassy in your home country. Your waiting time for an interview depends on the workload of the embassy.

5. Participate in an interview

During the visa interview, the consular officer asks questions about your:

  • background,
  • education,
  • occupation.

How much does it cost to apply for this visa?

As a T visa applicant, you will not have to pay a visa application fee, although you must pay a fee to complete and submit the forms. If you want to be exempt from paying fees, you must complete I-912, and Request for Fee Waiver.

This article explains how you can move to the US as a hospitality worker if you need to learn about it. 

How long does it take to process the submitted documents and issue a visa?

The processing time for documents and the issuance of a T visa depends on the applicant’s case. So it can not determine the exact time for it. Processing time depends on the documents provided by the applicant.

What is the validity of a T visa?

The validity of the T visa is four years. During the period, the principal visa holder can:

  • Open a bank account
  • Get a driver’s license.
  • Enroll in vocational or academic programs
  • Find a job

Can T visa holders extend their visas?

After these four years, visa holders must return to their home country. However, in some cases, they can extend their visa. To do so, they must submit Form I-539, Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status, to the USCIS and explain why they want to extend their stay in the United States.

Can a T visa holder work in the United States?

Once you receive this visa, you can enjoy the benefits that other refugees have. For example, you can not only work, but your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is also automatically issued to you. So you can work legally and full time in this country.

Can a T visa holder apply for a Green Card?

A T visa holder can apply for a Green Card and permanent residency in the United States. To be qualified for a Green Card, you must:

  • Stay on a T visa for at least 3 years
  • Pass the character assessment well
  • Prove that if you return to your country, you will face serious problems
  • Adhere to the US law
  • Be involved in the investigation of the human trafficking you were a victim of.

Let’s sum up…

In this blog, we tried to answer the questions that victims of human trafficking face when applying for a T visa. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is an excellent help for applicants.

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