T - Visa Lawyer
If you, or someone you know, is a victim of trafficking, there are pathways to obtain legal status in the United States. One such underutilized measure is the T nonimmigrant status (T visa) program, which protects human trafficking victims.
According to estimates from the U.S. Department of State, there are roughly 27.6 million victims of human trafficking globally at any given moment. The United States is believed to represent one of the largest rates of human trafficking in the world. This involves the illegal trade and exploitation of humans in a variety of schemes for economic gain. It entails the use of coercion, fraud, or force to compel people to be transported, harbored, or recruited in order to engage in forced labor, sexual exploitation, or other forms of exploitation.
Who We Serve
Central American Immigrants
However, you may still be eligible to be represented by us if you do not consider yourself a part of these demographics. We encourage you to contact us if you have experienced violence, discrimination, threats, intimidation, or abuse in any form.
Why is a T Visa Necessary
Trafficking takes many different forms and has its roots in poverty, discrimination, and the need for cheap labor. Undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable to trafficking because of fear of arrest and deportation. In addition to physical and psychological abuse, perpetrators and human traffickers often use the victims’ lack of legal immigration status as a tactic to abuse and control them.
The U.S. government recognizes that a key to combating human trafficking is through the support and protection of survivors. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (VTVPA) of 2000 was enacted to strengthen the prosecution of traffickers within the US and to protect victims through the creation of humanitarian immigration relief measures. The T visa program was one of the established measures.
Understanding the T Visa
A T visa is a type of temporary immigration relief issued to noncitizens who are or have been subjected to a severe form of human trafficking or attempted trafficking. The T visa was created with the twin goals of stabilizing the lives of trafficking victims by allowing them to remain in the US and encouraging law enforcement and victims to work together to bring traffickers to justice.
You may be eligible for a T visa if you meet the following conditions:
Are or has been a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons (use of force, fraud, or coercion for sex trafficking and/or involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery), as defined by federal law;
Are present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or at a U.S. port of entry due to trafficking;
Have complied with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (This is not required if you are under 18 years of age or are unable to cooperate with law enforcement due to physical or psychological trauma);
Would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the United States; and
Are admissible to the United States based on a review of criminal record, immigration violations or other criteria, or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility.
To apply for a T visa, you have to report the trafficking [or labor violation] to law enforcement, write a statement explaining exactly what happened to you, participate in the investigation, and prepare a full submission package. It's very important to use an attorney for this entire process. The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) estimates that the current processing time for T visa applications is approximately 17.5 – 36.5 months.
USCIS is allowed to approve 5,000 T visas per year. Since its inception, this cap has never been reached. However, the agency approved its highest number of T visa applications in the fiscal year 2022 (3,020).
Benefits of Obtaining a T Visa
The T visa, if granted, enables victims of human trafficking to lawfully stay in the US for up to four years. Individuals are eligible for employment authorization and given access to various benefits and services, such as food stamps and cash assistance.
During this time, they must continue to cooperate with law enforcement’s request for assistance in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of acts of human trafficking. After three years, if certain requirements are met, they may have the possibility of adjusting the status to Lawful Permanent Resident (a green card).
Certain immediate family members of the T visa holder may also be eligible for derivative T visas. This is based on the age of the applicant or current threats presented to family members.
The Role of Legal Assistance
There is nuance in the determination of whether an experience constitutes a severe form of trafficking. Many victims are dismissive of their own experiences. An immigration attorney can further explain the process, provide personalized guidance, and help determine qualification. They can assist you in gathering the necessary evidence and documentation to support your application.
The T visa application process can also be complex and stressful, especially if you are unfamiliar with federal law or the US immigration system. An experienced attorney can work with you to articulate and craft clear language to describe the relevant trafficking-related facts. We can create a framework to refine your statement and effectively demonstrate the trafficking scheme.
Attorneys can also report and communicate with government or law enforcement agencies on behalf of the applicant.
How Bueno Law Can Help
At Bueno Law, we are an office of immigrants for immigrants. Our attorneys & staff are committed and passionate immigration attorneys who are proud to work tirelessly for the immigrant community.
All prospective clients of Bueno Law receive a comprehensive evaluation of eligibility. If we decide to move forward, all clients receive top-notch guidance throughout the T-Visa application process. Our legal team will work to:
Report the trafficking
Gather evidence and draft relevant documents
Walk through process
Handle the entire application process which can be complicated to handle alone
Be your advocate with law enforcement
As a Bueno Law client, you will feel like you are a member of our family, because we treat you like our family. Our legal team is multilingual, including English, Spanish, & Portuguese. Contact our office today to learn more.
Let Us Help You
Bueno Law strives to provide all of our clients personalized access. Why? Because we’ve been in the shoes of our clients. We are a team of immigrants, working on behalf of immigrants. We understand and empathize with our clients who may be feeling fear and anxiety about the immigration process. Bueno Law is here to help you through it. Contact us today to schedule a confidential case review. We have offices in San Rafael, CA & San Diego, CA. You can also book an appointment by texting us on WhatsApp at (415) 754-0036.