Undocumented immigrants who have been the victims of a severe form of human trafficking may be eligible to apply for a T Visa which, if granted, will result in lawful status and eventually the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residence, or a “green card”.
To qualify for a T Visa, an immigrant must prove that he was the victim of a severe form of human trafficking and that he is in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking. Additionally, the immigrant must comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the human trafficking. However, law enforcement may not necessarily request the immigrant’s assistance and, in such cases, the immigrant may still be eligible for a T Visa. Further, an applicant who is under the age of 18 or who is unable to cooperate with law enforcement due to physical or psychological trauma need not assist in an investigation. Moreover, the immigrant must demonstrate that he would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if he were removed from the United States. Lastly, a T Visa applicant must prove that he is admissible to the United States. An applicant who is inadmissible may be eligible to apply for a waiver, depending on the reason he is deemed inadmissible.
In addition to being able to apply for his own legalization, a T Visa applicant can include certain family members in his application as derivative beneficiaries. Specifically, T Visa applicants who are 21 years of age or older can include their spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 in their applications. Applicants who are under 21 years of age can include their spouses, unmarried children under 21, parents and unmarried siblings under the age of 18. Additionally, an immigrant of any age may include his parents, unmarried siblings under 18 and the children of any age or marital status of his qualifying family members if these family members are in present danger of retaliation as a result of the applicant’s escape from trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement.
An immigrant who is granted a T Visa as a principal applicant or derivative beneficiary will receive lawful status and work authorization for a period of four years. However, the T Visa recipient may apply for lawful permanent residence after being in T Visa status for three years, or once the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking is complete, whichever occurs first.
Immigrants who have been the victims of any form of trafficking should consult with an immigration attorney to determine if they are eligible to apply for the T Visa. Indeed, the T Visa application process requires very specific evidence that must be included in order to avoid having the application denied. The attorneys of the Franco Law Group are available to discuss your case to determine if you may be eligible to apply for the T Visa.