T Visas, Explained
Learn more about the T nonimmigrant visa for victims of human trafficking
What Is the T Visa?
The T visa, also known as T nonimmigrant status, is a visa available to victims of human trafficking who are present in the United States as a result of trafficking. The T visa is designed to provide protection to victims of severe forms of trafficking and allow them to remain in the U.S. temporarily. It was established in 2000 under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.
The T visa is an important tool in the fight against human trafficking and provides victims with a means to escape exploitation, seek protection, and eventually establish a stable life in the U.S. However, the application process can be complex, and individuals seeking T visas often require assistance from legal and social service professionals who specialize in immigration and human trafficking issues.
In this guide, we’ll cover the main eligibility requirements and application process for the T visa.
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T Visa Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for a T visa, an individual must meet specific eligibility requirements outlined under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act:
- Victim of Trafficking: The applicant must be a victim of a severe form of human trafficking, such as forced labor, involuntary servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation.
- Physical Presence in the U.S.: You must be physically present in the U.S. or a U.S. port of entry as a result of the trafficking.
- Cooperation with Law Enforcement: The applicant must have complied with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the traffickers unless the applicant is under the age of 18 or physically or psychologically unable to cooperate.
- Fear of Retaliation or Harm: The applicant must show that they would suffer extreme hardship involving “unusual and severe harm” if they were removed from the U.S.
How to Apply for a T Visa
The most important step in applying for a T visa is to file Form I-914 (Application for T Nonimmigrant Status) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services. You may be required to file additional supporting documents along with your completed Form I-914, including:
- Personal statement describing your trafficking victimization and how you meet the eligibility criteria;
- Supporting evidence related to your trafficking experience, such as medical records, police reports, affidavits, and other documentation;
- Form I-914, Supplement B (Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons) , which is a supplemental form used as evidence that you have complied with all requests from law enforcement.
All T visa applications are processed at the USCIS Vermont Services Center. Applicants must mail their completed application package (including all forms and supporting documents) to:
Vermont Service Center
38 River Rd.
Essex Junction, VT 05479-0001
Including Family Members on Your T Visa Application
Certain family members of T visa applicants may also qualify for T visa status. T visa applicants can generally include spouses and children on their applications, and, in some cases, parents and siblings.
The eligibility of family members depends on the age of the T visa applicant and whether or not family members are considered in “present danger of retaliation” as a result of the T visa applicant’s trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement. You can learn more about the eligibility for qualifying family members on USCIS’ site here.
To include a qualifying family member on your application, T visa applicants must file Form I-914, Supplement A (Application for Family Member of T-1 Recipient). Form I-914A can be filed at the same time as Form I-914, while Form I-914 is pending, and even after an applicant has been granted T status.
T Visa Cost
There is no fee to file a T visa application. Applicants can also request fee waivers for other forms filed as part of the application, including Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document), and Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status), if applicable.
You can learn more about USCIS fee waivers and reductions in Boundless’ guide.
T Visa Timeline
The processing time for the T visa can vary, depending on USCIS’ current caseload and the specific circumstances of the application. At this time, all T visa applications (Form I-914) are processed at the Vermont Service Center.
T visa applicants can check the most up to date processing time estimate for their case on USCIS’ processing times tool here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a T visa and a U visa?
The T visa is designed for victims of human trafficking and focuses on providing immigration relief to individuals who have experienced severe forms of trafficking. The U visa is available to victims of various qualifying crimes, including but not limited to human trafficking, and aims to encourage cooperation with law enforcement. The U visa requires a certification related to cooperation in an ongoing criminal investigation.
How long does the T visa last?
T visa recipients are generally allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to four years, with the possibility of extending their status in certain cases.
Can you travel outside the U.S. with a T visa?
Yes – T visa holders are typically able to apply for a travel permit, which allows them to travel in and out of the U.S. Applicants must file Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) and receive an approval before traveling outside the U.S.
Can T visa holders apply for a green card?
After maintaining T nonimmigrant status for three years and meeting certain requirements, T visa holders may be eligible to apply for a green card. Learn more about the green card (adjustment of status) application process in Boundless’ guide.