As a Miami immigration lawyer, I have had several questions about the differences between the U and T visas. Below are some frequently asked questions.
Why were the U and T visa types created?
Congress created both “T” and “U” visas to encourage the victims of certain serious crimes to cooperate with law enforcement officials who are prosecuting criminal offenders. Only certain types of crimes will qualify the victim for a T or U visa; but both T and U visas include the qualifying crime of human trafficking. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
What qualifies as human trafficking for a T visa?
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. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
What makes a person eligible for relief under a T visa?
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 visited the United States on vacation (or for another purpose) and then been subjected to human trafficking or another qualifying crime.
This means that in most cases, to be eligible 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. Again, if you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
Must I demonstrate that I “knew” that I would be subjected to prostitution upon my arrival to the United States?
No, you do not have to demonstrate you “knew” that you would be subjected to prostitution or slavery (or any other goal of human trafficking) upon your arrival.
What should I know about the U visa?
Just like with the U visa, applicants for T visas must not refuse a reasonable request to cooperate with law enforcement officials who are investigating and prosecuting the human trafficking crime. Certain T visa applicants will not need to cooperate with law enforcement at all. 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 (or if under age 18, their “next friend”) must. Instead, T visa applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain a declaration from a law enforcement officer as primary evidence that they are a victim of human trafficking crime to submit with their application. Again, if you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
U Visa Applicants Must Show Substantial Abuse, While 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 (for example, if you were identified as a female victim of sex trafficking, you would be unable to obtain employment or get married or may be vulnerable to further victimization), or
- because of any other factors particular to your case.
What other similarities are there between the U visa and the T visa?
There are some important similarities between the two visas. Both 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 United States to permanent resident based on their time in the U.S. on the visa, and certain other eligibility requirements.
In addition, both T and U visa applicants have less to worry about from the U.S. grounds of “inadmissibility” than other visa applicants do. They can apply for a discretionary waiver of inadmissibility using USCIS Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, which will not require the showing of “extreme hardship” that is required of many other waiver applicants.
If you have would like to learn more about the U visa or the T visa, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at www.mmurraylaw.com.