Highlights of May 2023 USCIS Engagement on VAWA, U, and T issues with AILA + Coalition Partners

CAST attended USCIS’s May 8, 2023 Engagement on VAWA, U, and T issues where representatives from the USCIS Office of Policy & Strategy (OP&S), Service Center Operations Directorate (SCOPS), and Public Engagement Division discussed issues relating to T visas and other humanitarian remedies. Key take-aways for T visa practitioners are below.[1]

Processing, receipt issuance, & administrative issues

  • SCOPS recognized the negative impact of receipt issuance delays on vulnerable populations and partially attributed the delays to the fee waiver backlog. SCOPS indicated that VSC has recently hired to assist in reducing fee waiver backlogs and that it had seen a reduction in the backlog of fee waiver reviews and receipt issuance for 8 USC § 1367 filings.
    • CAST COMMENT: At a previous engagement, USCIS indicated that if a receipt notice has not been issued within 30-60 days of receipt of the filing, then representatives may submit an inquiry with the hotline ([email protected]) to check on the status.
  • When there is no backlog, filings are generally rejected due to a fee waiver denial within 30-60 days.
  • When contacting the hotline to inquire about a filing that has not been receipted or returned due to rejection, legal representatives should include the A#, full name, and date of birth of the individual (along with a copy of the G-28) to help locate a record. If the hotline reports that there is no record, it is possible that the filing was rejected at intake due to an old form edition, due to no signature, or because the fee waiver request was denied. Refiling is only necessary if a filing is lost or rejected.
  • The HART Service Center is currently in early operational stages. It is USCIS’s hope that the creation of HART will improve processing efficiencies for the humanitarian workload. USCIS hopes to have more information about processing times after HART has been operational for six months or more.
  • USCIS confirmed that an I-914 applicant may opt to receive notices at the safe address of their choosing, as indicated in USCIS’s recent safe address guidance.

Communication with VSC 

  • USCIS reported that current response times to hotline inquiries are within 14-21 days. Legal representatives who have not received a response may submit a second inquiry after 45 days, including “SECOND REQUEST” in the subject line of the email.
  • If an emergent situation arises, expedited processing may be requested by emailing the hotline, putting “EXPEDITE REQUEST” in the subject line.

Fee waivers

  • When an I-192 is being submitted in response to a request for evidence (RFE) or with an I-290B and is accompanied by a fee waiver, it is helpful if the applicant notes that the form is being submitted with a fee waiver that requires adjudication. If the I-192 is being submitted in response to an RFE, the RFE should be placed on top of the RFE response to ensure it is correctly routed to the file. If questions arise regarding benefits denied because of a delayed fee waiver adjudication, legal representatives should contact the hotline.
    • CAST COMMENT: CAST suggests indicating in bold letters on a cover page and/or cover letter that a time-sensitive I-192 and I-912 are being filed with an RFE response or I-290B. For example, “Response to RFE for EAC9999999999, includes I-192 and I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. Please review I-912 expeditiously.” CAST also suggests that supervisory attention be requested via the hotline if a denial results from a delayed fee waiver adjudication and that legal representatives prepare to timely file an I-290B in case a hotline response is not received in time.


  • T visa applicants in the U.S. who need to reschedule a biometrics appointment may do so by mail to VSC. Represented applicants may make a reschedule request via email to the hotline. Requestors should include the A#, receipt number, the full name and date of birth of the applicant/petitioner, and the reason for requesting the reschedule. New biometrics notices should be received within 30-45 days of the request. Reschedule requests should be submitted as soon as possible once a conflict is identified.
  • OP&S is continuing to work with the Department of State (DOS) on the issue of biometrics and consular processing delays facing T derivative applicants abroad but has no specific updates at this time. OP&S has emphasized to DOS the importance of scheduling biometrics appointments for T derivative applicants abroad.

 Applicants in removal/custody

  • For applicants in custody or who have a final order of removal, ICE or OIL have the option of requesting expedited adjudication via an email account established specifically for this purpose. Expedite requests submitted to this account have to come from ICE; representatives cannot request expedited processing through that email account, which is not publicly available. ICE Directive 11005.3, Using a Victim-Centered Approach with Noncitizen Crime Victims, discusses such expedite requests. USCIS has been working with ICE to make some changes to how ICE expedite requests are handled to make sure they are consistent with a victim-centered approach.

Employment authorization

  • Legal representatives may contact the hotline to request reissuance of an EAD for a T-1 nonimmigrant who was erroneously issued an EAD with “T1” as the code instead of “(a)(16).” No I-765 or fee will be required to obtain the replacement, but return of the erroneous EAD will be requested for a new card to be issued.
    • CAST COMMENT: These erroneous EADs were only issued for a brief period. Practitioners should note that T-1 nonimmigrants are authorized to work incident to status as per 8 CFR § 274a.12(a)(16) and therefore, should not be required to present an EAD to work or obtain a social security number. Chapter 6.8 of USCIS’s Handbook for Employers indicates that a T-1 nonimmigrant may present their I-94 as a List C document showing employment authorization, and Social Security Administration guidance includes T-1 nonimmigrants among those not required to present an EAD to work (and therefore be issued an SSN). Legal representatives should advise their T-1 clients that presenting their approval notice instead of an EAD may more readily identify them as a trafficking survivor due to the language in the notice.

Extensions of status

  • VSC will not reject or deny an I-539 seeking extension of T status simply because it was filed more than 90 days prior to the expiration of the present validity period.

**Note that the red text throughout this blog post indicates a clickable hyperlink. 


[1] Note that many of the topics covered were discussed in general terms and related to VAWA, T, and U visa petitions, not T visas specifically. AILA’s Key Takeaways and Unofficial Notes from that engagement are available here, AILA Doc. 23050300, and USCIS’s Q&A responses are here. CAST’s notes from an April 2023 engagement specific to T visas can be viewed here.