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Relief for Victims of Domestic Violence, Crimes, and Trafficking

The T nonimmigrant status or a T visa, was created by Congress in October 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Human trafficking is a global problem and has been defined as modern-day slavery. In general, traffickers pray on the most vulnerable population, which includes people who do not have lawful status. The T visa was designed to protect victims of human trafficking and to strengthen the ability of law enforcement to detect and prosecute these heinous crimes. There is an annual limit of 5,000 T visas per fiscal year, however that limit has never been reached.


If a victim of trafficking meets certain very specific criteria, he or she can be eligible for a T visa. While this visa is temporary, allowing the victim to remain in the United States and to be able to work for up to 4 years, it does provide for the holder to potentially become eligible to apply for a green card after 3 years of continuing physical presence in the US (on a T visa) and if he or she meets certain eligibility requirements. 

To qualify for a T nonimmigrant status, you have to show that:

  • You have been the victim of severe form of trafficking (sex or labor);
  • You are in the United States due to trafficking;
  • You have complied with reasonable requests for assistance by law enforcement officials. There are exceptions to this requirement if the person was under the age of 18 when at least part of the trafficking occurred, or if the person can demonstrate that he or she is not able to assist due to physical or psychological trauma.
  • You would suffer extreme hardship (unusual and severe harm) if removed;
  • You are not otherwise inadmissible, though waivers are a possibility.

Another form of immigration relief that is available to victims of trafficking or certain other crimes is the U visa. This immigration relief is also part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and was designed for people who have been a victim of certain criminal activities. 

As is with T visas, there is an annual cap, which is 10,000 per fiscal year. However, there are no limits for derivative applicants (spouses, children, or other eligible members). In addition, if the annual cap is reached, petitioners for U visas are placed on a waiting list, and they are eligible to receive work authorization while waiting for a visa to become available.


In order to qualify for a U visa, a person has to meet the following criteria:

  • You have to show that you have been the victim of a qualifying crime;
  • Furthermore, you have to show that you have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of being the victim of a qualifying crime;
  • You have information about the crime;
  • You have to demonstrate that you were helpful, are currently helpful, or likely will be helpful to law enforcement officials in the investigation or prosecution of the crime;
  • The crime occurred in the US or violates US laws; AND
  • You are admissible to the United States, though you can seek waiver.

The list of “qualifying crimes” includes rape, incest, domestic violence, involuntary servitude, blackmail, false imprisonment, felonious assault, sexual assault, prostitution, trafficking, murder, manslaughter, stalking, female genital mutilation, among others. Furthermore, the “qualifying crime” criteria includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the listed and other related crimes.

Similarly to a T visa, once approved, a U visa can last for up to 4 years and also, a U visa provides you with the opportunity to pursue permanent resident status after 3 years on a U visa, and if you meet certain other requirements.

Hiring A California Immigration Attorney

If you have questions about these immigration benefits, eligibility, or other options, please contact The Justice Firm locally at (310) 914-2444 or at our Toll-Free number at (866) 695-6714 or visit us on our website. Our immigration attorneys serve clients in Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties.

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