Question: I have a friend that has been in a most unfortunate circumstance. She was actually kidnapped from her home and sold into the underground world of sex slaves. Somehow, she escaped and fled to the U.S. She has no higher education or any job skills and no other family in the U.S. Is there anything she can do to stay here in the U.S.?
Answer: Yes, there is a new visa named the T Visa. To qualify, the person must be a victim of severe trafficking in persons. This can be a sex slave as you have mentioned, or it can be other forms of trafficking in persons such as slaves or involuntary servitude of any kind. The services provided must have been done under coercion or force.
Question: What must my friend do to avail herself of this T Visa?
Answer: First, she must be a victim of severe trafficking of persons. Next, she must be physically in the U.S. on account of such trafficking. If she is older than 15 years old, she must have tried to get the law enforcement officials in her home country to try to stop the acts. She must also show that if removed, she will suffer extreme hardship and harm. The application must be filed at the INS Service Center where she is present.
Question: My friend is too young to make it by herself, even if she gets the T Visa. Can her parents come and help and live with her?
Answer: Yes, the family members of a T Visa holder can get what is known as derivative status. This means that the parents and children (if they exist) can apply for the derivative T Visa. This is unique in visas. Normally, the parents do not derive any benefits from a visa obtained by their child. However, in this case, because of the nature of the visa, Congress has sought to allow parents to avail of this relief. The derivative applications must be sent along with the original application by the primary applicant.
Question: How long will my friend be able to stay on T status?
Answer: It can be issued for up to three years. There is no renewing this visa. However, after the three years, your friend can apply for Lawful Permanent Residency. Additionally, as long as the principal applicant (your friend) remains eligible, the family members also on T Visa can apply for Lawful Permanent Residency themselves.
Question: Assuming my friend gets the visa, is she guaranteed to get the Green Card?
Answer: Unfortunately, there is never a guarantee in terms of immigration. However, in this case, there are particular provisions that allow for INS to be able to revoke or even take away the particular visa status. The actual restrictions usually do not specifically assert just how or even the reason INS would revoke it, but assumably when the risk no longer is out there, or even these people found out that it was obtained via scams or misrepresentation, they are able to decide to revoke the visa. If this happens, they can end up being removed from the U.S. Nonetheless, generally, this T Visa appears to benefit folks who put up with extreme and outrageous conduct by other people. Here is the Usa stating to the world that any person that is suffering from this kind of cruelty will be welcome as well as permitted inside the U.S.
Brian D. Lerner: Brian D. Lerner is a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney who is a Certified Expert in Immigration and Nationality Law. He has been licensed as an attorney since 1992. Brian D. Lerner can help as a deportation attorney, immigration attorney for employment based cases, asylum attorney, removal attorney or any other area of immigration law.