In 2000, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVPA) was signed to address issues of worker exploitation resulting from trafficking in persons. This law is the result of the federal government's efforts through the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force, an interagency group that brings the FBI, INS, Department of Labor, and other agencies together to remedy a problem with both domestic and global dimensions, primarily involving women & children as victims.
This page explains the important differences between the two visas. Different types of evidence need to be provided to U.S.C.I.S. to demonstrate eligibility for either a T or U visa. KLF can assess whether trafficking victims can make a stronger case for a U visa or a T visa.
U Visas: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes
Immigrant victims of certain crimes who have been helpful in a criminal investigation or prosecution may qualify for a visa that can lead to a green card.
VAWA: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes
VAWA allows an abused spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident or an abused parent of a U.S. Citizen to self-petition for lawful status in the United States, receive employment authorization, and access public benefits. VAWA provides domestic violence survivors (male or female) with the means that are essential to escaping violence and establishing safe, independent lives.
T Visa: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Sex or Labor Trafficking
Human trafficking survivors may be eligible for lawful status, employment authorization, and a potential path to permanent residency, but they are a unique population with diverse and resource-intensive needs.
Both T & U visas provide the ability for principal applicants to apply for derivative visas for certain qualifying family members. In addition, T and U visa holders (and their derivative family members) may apply to adjust their status in the U.S. to Permanent Resident Status (a.k.a. ‘Green Card’ status).
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), creating special routes to immigration status for certain battered foreigners. Among the basic requirements for eligibility, a battered foreigner must be the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Through a self-petitioning process, the battered spouse/child may apply for immigration status without the knowledge or involvement of the abuser. Derivative status is available to certain children and parents of the principal immigrant.
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:
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. For example, an adult woman who was promised a job as a housekeeper and a U.S. work visa once she arrived in the U.S. and instead she is deprived of her passport and forced to work for minimal compensation would qualify as a victim of human trafficking. She was recruited and received into the U.S. by fraud, deception, and abuse of power with the goal of forced labor and involuntary servitude. A child who was brought to the U.S. by a parent to model in sexually explicit photographs would also qualify. The child was transported to the U.S. for child pornography.
U visa applicants are required to cooperate to a greater extant than T visa applicants. Both must abide a reasonable request to cooperate with law enforcement officials who are investigating and prosecuting the human trafficking crime.
Unlike the U visa, T visa applicants do not need to obtain a “Certification of Helpfulness” from a qualifying agency. Instead, they are strongly encouraged to obtain a declaration from a law enforcement officer as primary evidence that they are victims of a human trafficking crime.
Certain T visa applicants will not need to cooperate with law enforcement at all.
An applicant may be exempt from this cooperation requirement if he/she is:
In order to prove extreme hardship, an applicant should demonstrate:
To be eligible for interim relief, an individual must show: