USCIS Issues First Ever T Visa Policy Manual Sections

On October 20, 2021, USCIS released the T visa section (Volume 3, Part B) of the Policy Manual, as well as Volume 9, Part O for Waivers of Inadmissibility. CAST and ASISTA collaborated to produce an advisory discussing notable highlights from the Policy Manual (hereinafter “the Manual”) for practitioners representing survivors of trafficking in their immigration matters. The advisory serves as a brief update of the changes and useful guidance now available in the new sections; it does not, however, provide a comprehensive analysis of the changes and does not replace a thorough reading of the Manual, regulations, and relevant statutes.

Overall Considerations about the Manual

  • The guidance in the Manual supersedes prior Adjudicator’s Field Manual guidance and policy memoranda relating to T nonimmigrant status.
  • The Manual provides USCIS guidance and is distinct from the T visa regulations (8 CFR § 214.11 and 8 CFR § 212.16). The Manual interprets existing regulations. Because the regulations are not finalized and are therefore subject to future revision, the Manual may be updated to reflect future regulatory changes.
  • Finalization of the T regulations are currently a priority for USCIS as reflected in the Unified Agenda.
  • The Manual includes a Case Law Reference Table that clarify some severe form of trafficking  concepts.
  • The Manual footnotes provide important context and analysis, along with statutory and case citations, and should be read along with the body text.

Remember that the advisory is current as of November 2021. USCIS may update the Manual or finalize regulations.

A complete list of our advisories can be found here

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Recent Amendments to and Expansion of California’s Vacatur Law Benefit Victims of Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Assault

On September 22, 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 262, which amended PC 236.14, California’s Vacatur law. PC 236.14, which went into effect January 1, 2017, allows any person who “was arrested for or convicted of any nonviolent offense committed while he or she was a victim of human trafficking” to petition to have records of those arrests sealed and records of those convictions vacated. This law has been crucial in addressing the criminalization and stigma that follow survivors even after they escape their trafficking situation and in helping improve access to housing, employment, financial support and other resources that are essential for survivors as they work to move forward with their lives. However, PC 236.14 as originally written created some unnecessary challenges for survivors seeking relief; AB 262 sought to remove some of those barriers.

 

The following highlights the key amendments to the law:

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Six Principles of Trauma-Informed Practice

Within a trauma-informed response, there are six guiding principles, rather than a prescribed set of practices or procedures, that are applicable across multidisciplinary settings.

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Cultural Humility within Trauma-Informed Lawyering

Many aspects of trauma-informed lawyering, in which the practice of cultural humility falls under, is often generalized as “good lawyering.” Recognizing and responding to the client’s feelings of anxiety, clarifying legal processes the client will be dealing with, and advocating for appropriate rights and protections are all examples of good lawyering but can also be great examples of being trauma-informed. 

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Passport Inadmissibility Ground for T Visa Applicants and Holders

There are 2 different inadmissibility grounds for lack of passport: one for nonimmigrant applicants and one for immigrant applicants under INA §212(a)(7)(A) & (B).

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