Human trafficking is a grave violation of human rights, affecting millions of people worldwide. To combat this issue, many countries, including the United States, have established legal frameworks to protect and provide assistance to victims of trafficking. One crucial aspect of this support is the availability of visas for victims of trafficking. In this blog, we will explore the options available for obtaining a visa for a victim of trafficking in persons in the United States.
- T Visa: For Victims of Human Trafficking
The T visa is a specialized visa category designed to provide protection and immigration relief to victims of human trafficking, including both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Here are the key features of the T visa:
- Eligibility: To qualify for a T visa, an individual must demonstrate that they are a victim of severe trafficking and are willing to assist law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes.
- Benefits: T visa holders are eligible for various benefits, including the ability to live and work in the United States for up to four years, access to public benefits, and the possibility of applying for lawful permanent residency (green card) after three years.
- Derivative T Visas: Certain family members of the primary T visa holder may also be eligible for derivative T visas, including spouses, children, parents, and unmarried siblings under 18 years old.
- U Visa: For Victims of Certain Crimes, Including Human Trafficking
While primarily designed for victims of certain crimes, the U visa can also be an option for victims of trafficking who meet specific criteria. Here are the key features of the U visa:
- Eligibility: To qualify for a U visa, a victim must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of being a victim of a qualifying crime and be willing to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of that crime.
- Benefits: U visa holders can live and work in the United States for up to four years and may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency (green card) after three years.
- Continued Presence (CP): For Victims Cooperating with Law Enforcement
Continued Presence (CP) is not a visa but a temporary form of immigration relief available to victims of trafficking and certain other crimes who are actively cooperating with law enforcement in criminal investigations. CP allows victims to remain in the United States for a designated period while assisting with investigations.
- Asylum and Withholding of Removal: For Victims Fearing Persecution
Victims of trafficking who fear persecution or harm if they are returned to their home country may be eligible to apply for asylum or withholding of removal. These forms of relief provide protection to individuals who can establish a well-founded fear of persecution based on specific grounds, such as their membership in a particular social group.
- Consult with an Immigration Attorney
Navigating the immigration system as a victim of trafficking can be complex and emotionally challenging. It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney or a qualified legal service provider who specializes in human trafficking cases. They can guide victims through the process, help gather necessary evidence, and ensure that all legal requirements are met.
Obtaining a visa or other forms of immigration relief for victims of trafficking is a critical step in their journey to recovery and safety. The United States offers several options to protect and assist trafficking victims, including the T visa, U visa, Continued Presence, asylum, and withholding of removal. These avenues aim to provide victims with the support they need to rebuild their lives while contributing to the prosecution of traffickers and the prevention of future trafficking crimes.