What is “Human Trafficking” for T Visa Purposes

Human trafficking under U.S. law is defined based on the 2000 UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. The elements of the crime fall into three categories:

  • Process:  recruitment, transportation, transferring, harboring, or receiving of a person.
  • Ways and Means:  threat, coercion, abduction, fraud, deceit, deception, or abuse of power.
  • Goal:  prostitution, pornography, violence and sexual exploitation, forced labor, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery

Adult victims of human trafficking must prove that the crime involved at least one element from each of the above three. Child victims of human trafficking need only show an element from the Process and Goal categories.

Comparing U Visas and T Visas

T Visa Applicants Must Have Been “Trafficked” Into the U.S.

In order to qualify for a T visa, you must be present in the U.S. as a result of human trafficking. This differs from the qualification criteria for applicants for a U visa who may have entered or been in the United States for a different purpose and then been a victim of human trafficking or other qualifying U Visa crime.

To qualify for a T Visa, you must have traveled to the United States because you were recruited, forced, abducted, or deceived by the perpetrator of human trafficking and would not have been present in the U.S. if it were not for the actions of that person.

You don’t have to prove that you “knew” you would be subjected to human trafficking once you arrived in the United States.

Law Enforcement Cooperation 

Applicants for a T Visa must not refuse a reasonable request to cooperate with law enforcement officials who are investigating and prosecuting the human trafficking crime, just like with the U Visa. There are exceptions for some T Visa applicants who might not need to offer any law enforcement cooperation. You may be exempt from this cooperation requirement if:

  • you are a minor child (under 18 years old) or
  • you are unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma.

Additionally, T visa applicants are not required to obtain a “Certification of Helpfulness” from a qualifying agency like U Visa applicants. Although it is not required, it is very helpful for the case’s success to obtain and include a declaration from a law enforcement officer as evidence that you are a victim of a human trafficking crime and are cooperating with law enforcement for the prosecution of that crime.

T Visa Applicants Must Show Extreme Hardship If Denied

U visa applicants must prove that they suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse” as a result of the qualifying crime.

T visa applicants do not need to provide documentation of physical or mental abuse (though it will certainly help you to build a more convincing case). However, T visa applicants will need to show that their removal from the U.S. would cause “extreme hardship involving unusual and extreme harm.” This can be difficult to prove. You can do this by providing evidence that you would suffer if you were forced to leave the United States because:

  • you have medical needs (due to the trafficking crime or for other reasons) that cannot be met in your home country because of a lack of medical or psychological services
  • your country’s government will not protect you from further harm or prosecute the trafficking offenders
  • you would be stigmatized in your home country as a result of being a trafficking victim, or
  • because of any other factors particular to your case.

T Visas Are Subject to a Cap

There is a yearly cap of 5,000 T visas (not including visas for derivative family members). Because of these numerical limitations, you may want to see whether the cap for T Visas has been reached before you apply.

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