T Visas and T Adjustments

T Visa Filing Basics

Where do I find out the basics of filing a T visa?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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The best places to start learning about T visas are as follows: 

  • The USCIS Policy Manual sections on T nonimmigrant status, Vol. 3, Part B, and on waivers for T applicants, Vol. 9, Part O (both first released in October 2021).
  • The T visa regulations are located at 8 CFR § 214.11. The regulations provide guidelines on the eligibility and evidentiary requirements.
  • The Preamble to the 2016 interim regulations, which provides useful background and context to help interpret the regulations.
  • The T visa statute, INA § 101(a)(15)(T), which lays out the statutory requirements.
  • The I-914 Instructions on USCIS's webpage. The instructions include some general information on the eligibility requirements and a list of initial evidence.

We also recommend reviewing our free T visa resources here: https://casttta.nationbuilder.com/t_visa_intro. On this page, you will find a complete list of our advisories, e-learning courses, and webinars. 


Does CAST have resources for legal practitioners new to T visas?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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CAST has put together a robust and free list of resources for attorneys and accredited representatives to file effective T visa applications. When you watch one of our e-learning courses and pass the accompanying self-assessment, you gain access to our Box drive with additional samples and practice advisories on legal remedies for trafficking survivors, including immigration, vacatur, victims rights, and credit repair.

These resources are intended for legal practitioners only.

FREE ONLINE COURSES

PRACTICE ADVISORIES

TOOLKITS

  • EMP Model includes a worksheet to develop the legal theory of your severe form of trafficking in persons analysis. 
  • Waivers of Inadmissibility in T Visa Cases includes a practice advisory, an annotated sample I-192 & I-601, and a video explainer to help legal practitioners approach inadmissibility in T and T adjustment cases.  
  • T Visa Declaration Rubric provides attorneys with a framework to help review declarations and assess where they may need to be strengthened. The goal of the rubric is to minimize instances where the declaration could be misinterpreted and result in a negative outcome for the T visa applicant. 
  • T Visa Samples and Templates 

REGULATIONS & POLICY GUIDANCE

In addition to all of CAST's free resources, be sure that you have read through the following:

ANY CREDIBLE EVIDENCE STANDARD

Lastly, whenever you are filing an initial T visa application, remember that the standard of evidence is "any credible evidence." 8 CFR § 214.11(d)(2)(ii). This does not mean to include all and every piece of evidence; rather, this generous standard indicates that VSC has the obligation to accept any relevant and credible evidence in recognition of the fact that trafficking survivors often do not possess evidence of their trafficking. Remember that in the initial T visa filing, less is often more. CAST practice is to only include the required evidence listed on this T visa checklist at the initial T visa phase. To learn more about the any credible evidence standard, review ASISTA's practice pointer, Ensure Your Evidence is Credible


T Visa Screening Guide

Do you have a T visa screening guide?

Prior to performing your first trafficking screening, we recommend taking the time to learn the nuances of the severe form of trafficking legal definition. Our Human Trafficking Defined e-learning course goes over the legal definition of trafficking in depth and is a great place to start.   

CAST's T Visa Client Interview Questions are available to download here for free. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of questions to assess for T visa eligibility, but will help guide attorneys and legal advocates on a framework for the interview. Once you have completed the interview, we recommend plugging the facts into the EMP model to see whether there is enough to rise to the level of a severe form of trafficking in persons


Do you have any T visa samples or templates?

As a new attorney delving into T visas, I am curious if there are any sample templates available to guide me through the process. Do you have any T visa samples or templates that I could access to understand the intricacies of a successful T visa application?

We understand that navigating the world of T visas can be quite challenging, especially for attorneys new to T visas. We do provide free T visa samples and templates to assist attorneys like yourself in understanding the nuances of a successful T visa application.

These samples are stored in our secure Box drive, for those who have completed our e-learning courses and passed the associated self-assessment. The Box drive is password protected, and the password is shared exclusively with individuals who have successfully completed our courses.

It's important to note that while the dates on these samples might be older, they still serve as the foundation for CAST's filings and have consistently proven to be effective. We take great care in curating and sharing only those samples that have led to approved T visa applications. By relying on these proven samples, you can gain valuable insights into crafting a compelling and successful T visa application for your clients.

Don't forget to also check out our free guides and advisories, available here


Potential Trafficking Case?

How do I know if my client is a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons for purposes of a T visa?

The definition of trafficking for T visa purposes is the same as the definition of “severe form of trafficking in persons” found 22 U.S.C. § 7102(11). Our Human Trafficking Defined e-learning course goes over the legal definition of trafficking in depth. Understanding the federal definition of trafficking will help you determine whether your client meets the first eligibility requirement for the T visa.


What is Physical Presence?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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USCIS has historically interpreted the “physical presence” requirement for the T visa to mean that (1) the trafficking occurred in the U.S. and (2) the victim has not left the U.S. since the trafficking occurred (with limited exceptions). In other words, USCIS wants to know why the applicant is still in the U.S. after they escaped their victimization. Physical presence for T visa purposes does not simply involve showing that the victim was brought to the U.S. by their traffickers. Additionally, T visa applicants are not required to demonstrate that their initial entry was connected to trafficking at all! 

The T visa regulations require that an applicant demonstrate that they are physically present in the U.S. on account of trafficking which means articulating how the client’s current presence in the U.S. is connected to the trafficking. 8 CFR § 214.11(g) USCIS's Policy Manual provides helpful context to the physical presence requirement in Volume 3, Part B, Ch. 2.C & Ch. 3.C.6

Sample physical presence arguments or explanations include that the survivor:

  • is currently receiving trafficking-specific victim services;
  • is currently cooperating with law enforcement;
  • is experiencing trafficking-related trauma that delayed their ability to come forward; and
  • lacked an opportunity to depart due to barriers related to the trafficking.

The strongest physical presence arguments are those that are directly related to the trafficking experience. Presenting explanations that are unrelated to the trafficking victimization can minimize or undermine the strength of the argument. 

For more information, check out these additional resources:


Survivor Departed the U.S.

My client left the U.S. - is the T visa still an option for them?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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A foreign national’s departure from the U.S. causes a break in the physical presence requirement unless the applicant is able meet one of three exceptions listed in 8 CFR. § 214.11(g)(2): (1) continued victimization; (2) new incident of trafficking; or (3) the applicant was allowed re-entry to the U.S. to participate in an LEA investigation or judicial process related to the trafficking. 

Although there is no definition of “continued victimization,” the Vermont Service Center has historically interpreted this to encompass situations where the trafficker forced the victim to depart and return to the U.S. while still in the trafficking situation. Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) opinions have also suggested that the term “continued victimization” does not require that the T applicant be currently a victim of trafficking, and instead, may include ongoing victimization that directly results from past trafficking (Matter of A-M-M-B, July 2019). There has not been consistent interpretation of this particular exception.

In instances when the victim has departed the U.S. after their escape from the trafficking, the applicant for the T visa would need to demonstrate that they experienced a new incident of trafficking or their participation is required for a law enforcement investigation or prosecution related to the trafficking.

When raising the exception of new incident of trafficking, the applicant needs to show that this new incident meets the definition of severe form of trafficking. In other words, the new incident requires its own independent analysis that it falls within the legal definition of trafficking.

If the applicant is trying to meet the exception under the law enforcement investigation or judicial proceeding exception, the client’s participation in this investigatory or judicial process will need to be close in time to the re-entry or the applicant should have evidence that they are actively participating in the investigation or judicial process.

For additional insight, review:


Old Trafficking Case

My client's case is really old - can they still show physical presence on account of trafficking?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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There is no filing deadline or time limit for filing the T visa, no matter how long it has been since the survivor escaped their trafficking victimization.

However, an applicant may face challenges when the date of filing the application is more than 5 years after the escape from trafficking. Over the past few years, attorneys have reported that the Vermont Service Center (the office within USCIS that adjudicates T visa applications) has increased its scrutiny on trafficking cases when the date of escape is more than 5 years prior to the date of filing.

If the gap of time between the date of escape and the filing of the T visa is significant, the applicant will have to demonstrate how the trafficking victimization caused them to remain in the U.S. and how their delay in coming forward is reasonable. The applicant will need to show the trafficking-related barriers that contributed to the delay in coming forward, such as lack of self-identification, fear of retaliation, or trauma.  

The larger the gap of time between the escape and the filing, the more challenging it is to demonstrate that the applicant has remained in the U.S. on account of the trafficking. For that reason, it’s important to identify all the barriers the client faced in coming forward. It also becomes critical to enroll the applicant in trafficking-specific services to address the trauma that contributed to the delay in reporting their victimization. 

Additionally, it may be harder to find a law enforcement agency willing to accept a report for an older case. We suggest contacting local advocates regularly working on trafficking cases to get a sense of how law enforcement is treating these cases. The links here can help you identify non-profit legal services providers in your area.

For more information, check out these additional resources:


Attempted Trafficking

Can a victim of attempted trafficking qualify for T nonimmigrant status?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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Yes. The Policy Manual T visa sections clarify that applicants may establish eligibility for T nonimmigrant status even without having performed the labor or service where they can show that the perpetrator’s purpose was to subject them to commercial sex, involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.[1] Legal practitioners making such an attempted trafficking argument will need to be able to prove all the required elements of the severe form of trafficking definition—the process (recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining), the means (force, fraud, or coercion), and the intended ends (labor or sex trafficking).[2] Additionally, the applicant needs to demonstrate that they are in the U.S. or at a port-of-entry on account of that trafficking.[3] In a nutshell, the argument is essentially that but/for some intervention or the victim’s escape, the perpetrator would have completed the act of trafficking.  

To prove that the trafficker’s purpose was to subject the applicant to forced labor or services or commercial sex in the U.S. when no labor, service, or sex act was performed, applicants should provide concrete details demonstrating why they believe the trafficker’s purpose was to subject them to trafficking. It is apparent from AAO opinions that USCIS will look closely for facts and evidence indicating the trafficker’s intention to bring the applicant to the U.S. for the purpose of subjection to labor or sex trafficking.[4]

Remember that an applicant’s declaration alone can serve as the requisite evidence under the any credible evidence standard.[5] Examples of the trafficker’s intention that can be explored and included in the applicant’s declaration are:

  • the applicant was told by the trafficker that their intention was to force them to engage in commercial sex, involuntary servitude, or debt bondage;
  • the applicant overheard the trafficker tell another of the trafficker’s intention to traffic the applicant in the U.S.;
  • actions by the trafficker to put in motion a plan to traffic the applicant (e.g., buying relevant supplies, telling the applicant to engage in certain grooming or beauty regimens, readying a physical space, making phone calls to others, etc.); and
  • the applicant’s knowledge of other people being forced by the trafficker to engage in commercial sex, involuntary servitude, or debt bondage.

For questions, please submit an Individual Technical Assistance Request or join CAST’s Legal Working Group call. For help analyzing potential trafficking cases, see CAST’s Ends-Means-Process Model, and for more on the T visa physical presence requirement, see CAST's Physical Presence Toolkit.

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[1] Classification for Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons; Eligibility for “T” Nonimmigrant Status, 81 Fed. Reg. 92226, 92270-71 (Dec. 19, 2016) (hereinafter “Preamble to 2016 Interim T Visa Regulations”); 3 USCIS-PM B.2.B.6; B.3.C.5.

[2] 3 USCIS-PM B.3.C.5.

[3] 8 CFR § 214.11(b)(2). For more on the T visa physical presence requirement, see CAST’s resources linked here.

[4] See, e.g., In Re: 21712344 (AAO June 29, 2022) (non-precedent decision); In Re: 05083923 (AAO Jan 17, 2020) (non-precedent decision); In Re: [REDACTED] (AAO Sept. 28, 2007) (non-precedent decision) (discussing speculative statements regarding the perpetrator’s intent to traffic the applicant and the importance of accurate accounts of the applicant’s interactions with the perpetrators and their treatment of her).

[5] 8 CFR § 214.11(d)(2)(ii); 3 USCIS-PM B.3.C.1. Though an applicant’s declaration alone can provide sufficient evidence of the trafficker’s purpose, the Preamble to the 2016 Interim T Visa Regulations notes that the following evidence can be submitted to demonstrate the trafficker’s purpose: “[c]orrespondence with the trafficker, evidence from an LEA, trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, news articles, and affidavits.” Preamble to 2016 Interim T Visa Regulations at 92272. It also states that “[t]he clearest evidence of [the trafficker’s] purpose would be that the victim did in fact perform labor, services, or commercial sex acts.” This evidence would be available in cases where the victim had been previously subjected to trafficking, whether abroad or in the U.S. prior to a departure. Id.

 


Reporting Human Trafficking for T Visa Purposes

To which law enforcement agency should I report the trafficking my client experienced?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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The regulations do not specify the law enforcement agencies where one must report. Instead, the regulations broadly describe that, for the purposes of the T visa, a survivor can report to any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency that has the power to detect, investigate, or prosecute trafficking. 8 CFR § 214.11(a)

CAST recommends reaching out to legal advocates who regularly work with trafficking survivors for assistance identifying law enforcement partners that have human trafficking training, are trauma-informed and victim-centered, and with whom their clients have had positive experiences with in the past. Non-profit organizations are often specifically funded to represent trafficking survivors and may have a good idea of who the best law enforcement partners may be.

If you are not sure which local non-profits to contact or there are none in your area, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) for a referral to law enforcement, but you must follow up with the law enforcement agency that they refer the case to. Remember, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is NOT a law enforcement agency and reporting to this hotline alone will not be sufficient to meet the T visa eligibility requirements.

For more tips on how to report for T visa purposes, check out CAST's Law Enforcement Cooperation Guide.


Active Criminal Investigations in T Visa Cases

What happens if my client’s case triggers an investigation?

If reporting the trafficking triggers an interview or investigation, it means that the client will need assistance with victims’ rights advocacy. If you are assisting your client with reporting, you will need to be prepared that the client may need assistance with enforcement of their rights. This means assisting the client in enforcing statutory or constitutional victims’ rights such as the right to fairness and respect, privacy, and notice.

For example, if your client has to participate in an interview, as their attorney, you would need to accompany them to the interview to make sure that the client's statements are consistent, that their safety and privacy is enforced (e.g., redacted name or pseudonym in police reports, criminal protective orders if necessary), and that the client’s compliance with reasonable law enforcement requests is documented. If the case moves beyond the interview phase, the client may also need additional assistance with notice of future criminal hearings or of the release of their perpetrator from jail, among other victims' rights needs.

For more information on Victims’ Rights Advocacy, please review these additional resources:

  • NCVLI Fundamentals of Victims’ Rights
  • CAST Victims’ Rights e-learning course
    • Part 1: Intro to Victims’ Rights and how to enforce during the reporting phase
    • Part 2: Asserting rights during criminal prosecution
    • Part 3: Restitution and victims compensation

I-914B Law Enforcement Certifications

Do I need a law enforcement certification for my T visa application?

Unlike the U visa, a law enforcement certification ("I-914B") is not required for T visas. 8 CFR § 214.11(d)(3)(i); USCIS Policy Manual Vol. 3, Part B, Ch. 3.C.3. If you are unable to obtain an I-914B, it does not mean that your client is less likely to be approved. In fact, a majority of approved applications for T nonimmigrant status do not include a signed I-914B.

If you cannot obtain an I-914B, you can submit an attorney declaration explaining the good faith efforts you've taken on behalf of your client to report the trafficking. For more tips on how to report trafficking for T visa purposes and to see an attorney sample declaration, check out our Law Enforcement Cooperation Guide.


What is Extreme Hardship?

What is extreme hardship for T visa cases? How does it differ from other the hardship standard in other immigration remedies?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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Extreme hardship for T visas is a higher standard than most other forms of hardship in immigration law and has its own specific factors delineated in 8 CFR § 214.11(i)(2). USCIS's Policy Manual expands upon these factors and clarifies that hardship to a family member may be considered to the extent that it constitutes hardship to the applicant. USCIS Policy Manual Vol. 3, Part B, Ch. 2.E.2. A finding of extreme hardship cannot be based solely on loss of financial or economic opportunities. 8 CFR § 214.11(i)(1)

For a strong extreme hardship argument, consider arguing at least three factors listed in the regulations. The strongest factors are those that are directly related to the trafficking victimization, while factors relying on country conditions, customs, or beliefs may be less strong. 

For more information, see:


Waivers of Inadmissibility in T Visa Cases

My client is inadmissible. Can their grounds of inadmissibility be waived?

Two statutory waivers of inadmissibility are available to T visa applicants--INA §§ 212(d)(3) and 212(d)(13). The (d)(13) waiver is a generous waiver available only to applicants for T nonimmigrant status, while the (d)(3) waiver is the general nonimmigrant waiver. 8 CFR § 212.16 discusses how an applicant for T nonimmigrant status may request a waiver of inadmissibility as well as the discretionary analysis undertaken by adjudicators in reviewing such waiver requests.

USCIS instructs adjudicators to first consider (d)(13) waiver eligibility and then to consider eligibility for a waiver under (d)(3), if it determines that the applicant is not eligible for the trafficking-specific waiver. USCIS Policy Manual Vol. 9, Part O, Ch. 3.A, 3.C, & 4.A. Advocates should therefore first argue eligibility for the (d)(13) waiver, when available, and then argue for the (d)(3) waiver in the alternative.

To demonstrate eligibility for the (d)(13) waiver, except for health-related inadmissibility, the applicant needs to demonstrate how the grounds are connected to the trafficking and should discuss any national interest factors meriting approval, as discussed in the Policy Manual. CAST recommends that attorneys consider arguing expansively for (d)(13) waiver eligibility whenever possible. 

To demonstrate eligibility for a (d)(3) waiver, the applicant should indicate how waiver is in the national interest. The waiver request should also demonstrate how the social and humanitarian factors outweigh the risk of harm to society and the seriousness of the inadmissibility or any adverse factors. USCIS Policy Manual, Vol. 9, Part O, Ch. 4.B.

Please see the following resources for more information: 


Evidentiary Requirements for T Visas

How much evidence should I include in a T visa application?

The evidentiary standard in T visas is the “any credible evidence” standard, meaning that USCIS must consider any credible evidence submitted for each of the required elements. The adoption of this more liberal evidentiary standard is Congress’ recognition of the barriers victims face in providing primary or corroborative evidence of their trafficking. 

Often the only evidence trafficking survivors have of their victimization is their personal statement, making it the most important evidence in support of the T visa. It is important to note that T visa applicants are under no obligation to supply additional evidence to corroborate the trafficking victimization and cannot be denied for failure to submit any particular piece of evidence. T visa applications are regularly approved with the client declaration serving as the only evidence of the trafficking victimization. 

Legal advocates should be very mindful of which evidence they include in the applicant's T visa filing. While there may be an inclination to want to include as much information as possible, supporting evidence may not actually address the T visa eligibility requirements. For example, in considering whether to submit an employment contract, the attorney should evaluate whether the contract serves as evidence of the trafficking, or whether it is simply evidence of the victim’s employment and therefore, unnecessary. Additionally, trafficking survivors are not required to show harm in the same way that applicants for other forms of relief may have to. As a result, trafficking survivors do not need to submit medical evidence or records. Prior to submitting medical evidence, attorneys should evaluate whether that evidence actually addresses one of the T visa eligibility requirements. 

Note that including additional, unrequired information and evidence with the T visa filing could end up drawing focus away from the trafficking, undermining the legal arguments, or causing undue scrutiny. CAST's T Visa checklist includes the general evidence that we recommend submitting with an initial T visa filing. Requests for evidence (RFEs) or notices of intent to deny (NOIDs) provide an opportunity to submit additional supporting evidence that specifically addresses the adjudicator's concerns with the case. 

For more guidance, we suggest reviewing these additional resources:

  • USCIS Policy Manual, Vol. 3, Part B, Ch. 3.1 (on any credible evidence)
  • USCIS's I-914 Instructions (which include a list of required evidence)
  • ASISTA's Practice Pointers on "Any Credible Evidence"
  • 1998 INS Memorandum discussing any credible evidence in self-petitions filed by victims of abuse 
  • CAST T Visa Checklist
  • CAST AdvisoryPsychological Evaluations in Support of T Visas

Psychological Evaluations in T Visas

Should I include a psychological evaluation with my client's initial T visa application?

CAST does not recommend including a psychological evaluation in an initial T visa filing as the purpose of a psychological evaluation in the T visa context is limited. Psychological evaluations serve two main purposes in a T visa application:

  1. To corroborate the applicant's physical presence on account of trafficking. A psychological evaluation can be used to show how trauma impacted the victim’s ability to come forward sooner and how their day-to-day life has been impacted by the trafficking trauma, keeping them in the U.S.
  2. To support the applicant's extreme hardship argument. An evaluation could be used to show the hardship that would result if the victim were to lose access to supportive services (e.g., case management or counseling) if they were removed from the U.S.

An overly broad psychological evaluation could weaken or undermine the survivor's T visa application. For instance, psychological evaluations often include extensive information regarding the client’s background, medical history, and history of prior abuse or other victimization. Sometimes this extensive history can raise potential inadmissibility issues related to harm to self or others. An overly broad psychological evaluation that highlights unrelated victimization may distract the adjudicator and undermine the applicant's trafficking argument, in addition to increasing the chances of containing inconsistent information. 

CAST recommends waiting until receipt of a request for evidence (RFE) or notice of intent to deny (NOID) to submit a psychological evaluation, rather than submitting one with the initial application. In waiting for an RFE, you can assist the psychologist or therapist to tailor the evaluation to the issues raised by USCIS, whether physical presence, an exception to law enforcement cooperation, credibility, or extreme hardship. Affirmatively including a psychological evaluation in the initial application can be problematic because it is hard to anticipate with certainty the issues that USCIS may have during the adjudication of the case.

Remember that a psychological evaluation is not a substitute for trafficking-specific victim services or ongoing counseling. 

For a more in-depth explanation on psychological evaluations, see CAST's Psychological Evaluations Advisory

For more information on physical presence, see CAST's Physical Presence Advisory.


Letters of Support from Friends & Family in T Visa Applications

Should I include letters of support from friends/family/members of the community?

As with other forms of supporting evidence, attorneys should consider whether a letter of support addresses the T visa eligibility requirements. Generally, CAST does not recommend including affidavits or letters of support from friends or family members in support of the principal’s T visa application. First, third parties usually do not possess direct knowledge or have not witnessed the trafficking victimization. Second, including third party letters may open up the friends or family to have to testify in court proceedings outside of the immigration process. 

There may be instances where including a letter of support can potentially be helpful, such as where the applicant has significant inadmissibility or criminal issues and needs to demonstrate that they merit a favorable exercise of discretion. Absent those circumstances, letters of support are generally neither necessary nor useful.

For more information, see CAST's T Visa Checklist and FAQEvidentiary Requirements in T Visa Cases.


T Visa Derivatives

Which family members can the principal T visa applicant apply for?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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The T visa principal is allowed to petition for eligible family members pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(T)(ii) if accompanying or following to join the principal. The eligibility of family members can be broken down into two categories:

  • Based on the age of the principal applicant:
    • If the principal is under the age of 21, the eligible family members are:
      • Spouse (T-2)
      • Child (T3)
      • Parent (T-4)
      • Unmarried siblings under the age of 18 (T-5)
    • If the principal is over the age of 21, the eligible family members are:
      • Spouse (T-2)
      • Child (T-3)
  • Based on a present danger of retaliation as a result of principal’s escape or cooperation with LEA, regardless of the age of the applicant, can petition for:
    • Parents (T-4)
    • Unmarried siblings under the age of 18 (T-5)
    • Adult or minor child of a derivative beneficiary of the principal (T-6)

Additional resources:


After Acquired Spouse in T Visas?

Can I apply for a spouse after the T visa is approved? Is there an equivalent to the U Visa I-929?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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The T visa does not have an exception for an after-acquired spouse. However, the USCIS Policy Manual at Vol. 3, Part B, Ch. 4.D.2 was updated in 2021 to reflect the decision in Medina Tovar v. Zuchowski, 982 F.3d 631 (9th Cir. 2020) which allows for principals who marry while their application is pending to apply for their spouse even if the relationship did not exist at the time of filing. 

For additional information, review ASISTA, CLINIC & ILRC’s Practice Alert Regarding Certain U and T After-Acquired Cases (June 11, 2021).

 


Age-Out Protections for T Visas

Is there an age-out protection for derivative family members in T Visa cases?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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Yes. The age-out protections will be in place as long as the T visa is filed prior to the derivatives’ age cut off. 8 CFR § 214.11(k)(5)(ii) & (iii).

For additional information, see USCIS Interoffice Memo Re: Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003.


Present Danger of Retaliation

How do we demonstrate present danger of retaliation?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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Present danger of retaliation allows the principal applicant to apply for derivative status for certain family members who would otherwise be ineligible based on their age if that family member is currently facing a present danger of retaliation. 8 CFR § 214.11(k)(1)(iii). The present danger of retaliation must be a direct result of the principal’s escape or cooperation with law enforcement. USCIS evaluates each present danger derivative application on a case-by-case basis. The principal and derivatives must be able to articulate and describe the present danger that resulted from the principal escaping or cooperation with LEA. The principal’s affidavit alone is generally insufficient as evidence of present danger of retaliation. They must provide additional evidence in the form of third party affidavits, police reports, news articles, court documents, and others in order to prove their claim for present danger.

When describing the present danger it is important to:

  • Explicitly relate the danger the family is experiencing abroad to the trafficking that occurred in the U.S.;
  • Provide an account of how the principal’s disclosure of the trafficking victimization has affected the family members; and
  • Describe the steps the family has taken in order to protect themselves from the retaliation (e.g., reports to local law enforcement in home country or efforts to relocate to a safe location to escape retaliation).

For additional information, review:

  • USCIS Policy Manual, Part B, Vol. 3, Ch. 4 & 5.
  • DHS Policy Memorandum PM-602-0107New T Nonimmigrant Derivative Category and T and U Nonimmigrant Adjustment of Status for Applicants from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

 


Evidence of Admission for a T Derivative

Does my T derivative client who consular processed need an I-94?

Yes! T derivatives abroad are not admitted into T nonimmigrant status until they consular process, obtain a T entry visa, and are admitted via a port of entry. See 8 CFR § 214.11(a).[1] An I-94[2] serves as evidence of admission as a T nonimmigrant and is key to various processes, including access to public benefits, drivers licenses, in-state tuition and financial aid, employment authorization and extensions of status, and, importantly, eligibility to adjust status as a lawfully admitted T nonimmigrant as per 8 CFR § 245.23(b)(2).[3] U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has authority over individuals seeking admission at a port-of-entry[4] and therefore, the I-94, Arrival/Departure Record created at the time of admission will dictate the period of admission for a T derivative entering from abroad. As a result, legal practitioners should check for an I-94 when a T derivative client is admitted into the U.S. from abroad to verify the duration and class of admission are correct and that no extension is required.   

In 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stopped issuing paper I-94 cards and instead, began utilizing an online system where noncitizen visitors can access an electronic copy of their admission record (an electronic I-94) and their travel history. Around 2020, U and T nonimmigrants admitted via a port of entry stopped being able to access electronic I-94s in many cases.[5] Additionally, beginning in 2022, many ports of entry stopped providing an ink passport stamp containing the date, class, duration, and place of admission.[6] Without the I-94 or passport stamp, T nonimmigrants who have been admitted from abroad lack critical information about their status and the duration of that status.

Because of the potential ramifications of a T nonimmigrant’s lack of I-94, practitioners should make sure to check for an I-94 (paper or online) or passport admission stamp indicating the duration and class of admission. Practitioners should utilize CBP’s deferred inspection process to obtain an I-94 where no paper I-94 was issued and no electronic version is accessible via CBP’s I-94 online look-up or where the I-94 contains an error.[7] Alternately, practitioners may be able to file Form I-102 with USCIS to obtain a missing I-94 for a noncitizen who was admitted via a port of entry.[8] 

CBP’s list of deferred inspection sites can be found here. Note that the inspection sites are grouped regionally; to locate the closest site, select the dropdown of the closest city on the list. Any DIS can correct a CBP I-94 error, regardless of the original port of arrival.[9] Some offices may have an email address you can contact for instructions on the site’s specific I-94 correction instructions. Each DIS has a different process, and some may wholly refuse to issue an I-94.

CAST recommends that a legal representative accompany all T nonimmigrants who need to visit a CBP DIS in person to ensure that the I-94 is properly issued and the client has no problems. If a CBP DIS refuses to produce or correct an I-94 for a T or U nonimmigrant admitted from abroad, practitioners may want to consider contacting CBP’s Traveler Communications Center (TCC) at (202) 325-8000, via email at [email protected], or via the “Ask a Question” form on CBP’s website.[10]

CAST also recommends advising T derivatives prior to travel that they may, if they feel comfortable, request an I-94 or passport stamp from CBP during their admission.[11] CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) has confirmed at several public engagements that an I-94 or passport stamp may be provided at admission upon request.[12]

AILA’s VAWA, Us, & Ts National Committee[13] has been working to address the issue of U holders and T derivatives who were admitted by CBP at a port-of-entry but were not issued an I-94 (and where no I-94 is downloadable from CBP’s website). In May 2022, January 2023, August 2023, and February 2024, AILA conducted calls for examples to share with CBP along with a request that CBP return to issuing paper I-94s to U and T entrants upon admission.

For technical assistance relating to I-94 issues for U nonimmigrants, CAST suggests reaching out to ASISTA, which also authored a 2019 Practice Pointer on this topic.

For technical assistance relating to a trafficking survivor, please reach out to CAST using the form linked at this page.

Last updated March 1, 2024

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[1] See also 3 USCIS-PM B.7.E, explaining that derivative applicants inside the U.S. are provided with evidence of T nonimmigrant status upon I-914A approval, whereas derivative applicants abroad are not and must complete consular processing.

[2] Sometimes, depending on the benefit or process, an ink admission stamp containing the date, duration, class, and place of admission may be sufficient. However, in some instances, the ink admission stamp may be incomplete or inconsistent with the I-94, which is controlling.

[3] To be eligible to adjust status, a T nonimmigrant must have been properly admitted into T nonimmigrant status and must continue to hold T nonimmigrant status. 8 CFR §§ 245.23(a)(2) & (b)(2). While the lack of I-94 is typically an issue for T derivatives who consular process in from abroad, T-1 nonimmigrants who choose to travel abroad and return with advance parole will need an I-94 to demonstrate their re-admission into T status so they can adjust status as a T nonimmigrant.

While CAST is not aware of any relevant Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) T adjustment decisions at the time of this writing, there have been AAO decisions in the U adjustment context indicating that the duration of admission granted by CBP and indicated on a nonimmigrant’s I-94 is controlling, even where USCIS has issued an approval notice for a longer period. See, e.g., In Re: 11853918 (AAO Mar. 26, 2021) (non-precedent decision); In Re: 19716638 (AAO Jan. 11, 2022) (non-precedent decision).

[4] 8 CFR § 235.1(a); 7 USCIS-PM B.2.A.1.

[5] Though no announcement was made about this change, practitioners suspect online access to I-94s were eliminated due to CBP’s interpretation of 8 USC § 1367 confidentiality provisions. This ILRC advisory provides general guidance on these confidentiality provisions.

[6] This change in CBP practice regarding passport admission stamps is discussed in AILA Practice Pointer, CBP Stampless Entry Program (April 11, 2023, AILA Doc. No. 23041200) and AILA Practice Pointer, CBP Stampless Entry and Other Technological Initiatives (December 22, 2023, AILA Doc No. 23122233).

[7] CBP Deferred Inspection Site (DIS) practice regarding such I-94 requests currently varies, with some refusing to produce the I-94, some allowing attorney appearance in lieu of the nonimmigrant, some providing the I-94 via email, and some only providing the I-94 information or confirming an I-94 record exists but refusing to produce the actual I-94.

Note that USCIS must be contacted for I-94 errors made by USCIS, for example in the case of T-1 applicants or T derivative applicants residing inside the U.S. at the time of approval. See, e.g., CBP Fact Sheet, I-94 Automation (2013).

[8] The January 31, 2024 Federal Register announcement of new fee exemptions relating to applications for T nonimmigrant status and related filings through adjustment of status did not specify whether Form I-102 is among the fee exempt forms, but the G-1055, Fee Schedule effective 4/1/2024 indicates that there is no fee for an I-102 where the I-94 is unavailable on CBP's website. 

Additionally, the nonimmigrant may attempt to obtain their I-94 through a CBP FOIA, though CAST is only anecdotally aware of limited success utilizing this method.

[9] 2014 CBP Memo, I-94 Corrections, AILA Doc. No.  19081414; see also AILA Practice Pointer, Correcting Errors on Form I-94, AILA Doc. No. 22041300.

[10] Additional information on I-94 correction and the Traveler Communication Center can be found in AILA’s 2022 Practice Pointer, Correcting Errors on Form I-94, AILA Doc. No. 22041300, and on CBP’s website. As of this writing, it is unclear whether TCC will issue an I-94 in these cases.

[11] Practitioners may want to consider preparing a brief letter explaining the I-94/admission stamp request that the client may then present to CBP.

[12] AILA Doc. No. 22100700 (Q14 & Q15); AILA Doc. No. 23033001 (Q23).

[13] CAST staff currently sit on AILA’s VAWA/U/T National Committee and have been actively engaged in this project.


Travel on a T Visa

My client wants to travel on their approved T visa. Can they?

Important Update: The T Final Rule was released on April 30, 2024, updating regulations impacting T and T AOS applicants. These changes will be effective starting August 28, 2024. As a result, our resources may be temporarily out of date.

CAST is actively working on updating our trainings, advisories, and other materials to reflect the new regulations. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and encourage you to review the new regulations and our advisory, Overview of the 2024 T Visa Final Rulewhile we update our resources.

Thank you for your understanding.

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The T visa is not a travel document allowing re-entry to the U.S. and for the reasons that follow, we generally advise against traveling until the T visa holder has been granted permanent residence.

Although a T visa holder may obtain Advance Parole to re-enter the U.S. and resume T nonimmigrant status, we generally recommend against travel abroad as it may require the assumption of unnecessary risk and re-entry is not guaranteed. For example, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may hold a T nonimmigrant at a port-of-entry or may deny the entry due to unfamiliarity with the T visa or unwaived grounds of inadmissibility.

Additionally, travel outside of the U.S. may impact a T-1 nonimmigrant's ability to adjust by undermining the applicant's extreme hardship argument or breaking their continuous physical presence. Keep in mind that at the initial T visa phase, a T-1 applicant had to prove that they would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal. At adjustment, a T-1 holder may need to re-establish extreme hardship. 8 CFR § 245.23(a)(6)(ii). Additionally, any single absence of more than 90 days will break a T-1 applicant's continuous physical presence required under 8 CFR § 245.23(a)(3).

Legal representatives should discuss these risks with T visa holders ahead of a decision to travel and should prepare clients for potential issues at re-entry before departure. Additionally, legal representatives should be sure to advise T holders that advance parole must be obtained prior to departure from the U.S. 3 USCIS-PM B.12.B.

Additional Resources:


Denied T Visa

My client’s T visa was denied, what do I do next?

In light of the Notice to Appear (NTA) memo issued on June 28, 2018, we recommend filing a Motion to Reopen and/or Motion to Reconsider (MTR) to exhaust all administrative steps in order to prevent or delay the issuance of an NTA to the T visa applicant rather than filing an immediate appeal. 

The benefit of filing the MTR rather than directly appealing is to have the opportunity to reframe arguments and evidence for the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). It also gives the applicant one more time to address the issues raised in the Request for Evidence (RFE) phrase.

We have provided guidance on MTRs in our blog post here.  

 

If you need assistance in addressing the concerns raised by USCIS, CAST can provide you with individualized technical assistance.


Early Adjustment Letter from U.S. Dept. of Justice

How do I request a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice for early adjustment of a T visa holder? 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division reviews on a case-by-case basis requests to provide a letter indicating that a criminal case is no longer open and that the victim has been helpful in the investigation against their trafficker (if applicable) so that a trafficking survivor may apply for early adjustment under 8 CFR § 245.23(a)(3). The letter may be requested by emailing the DOJ's dedicated email address: [email protected].

For more information and troubleshooting tips, download CAST's guide on how to request an early adjustment letter from DOJ. 


Why is the letter for early adjustment from the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) taking so long?

I have been waiting for a considerable amount of time for the letter for early adjustment from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and have followed up multiple times, but there has been no response. Can you provide insight into the reason for this delay and when I can expect to receive the letter?

The DOJ early adjustment letter is not issued automatically. The DOJ confirms with all law enforcement agencies where the case was reported to verify that there is currently no active investigation.

The approximate processing time for DOJ letters is 120 days. If you receive an automated response from DOJ’s email, rest assured your request for the letter is in queue and will be processed in the order it is received. Practitioners should avoid following up with DOJ until after the 120 days have lapsed. If you do not receive an automated response, review the “Tech Tip” in our guide for troubleshooting.

Several factors could contribute to a prolonged processing time. This includes:

  • Incomplete Information: Processing can be delayed if all necessary details listed in the guide were not provided with the initial request.
  • Multiple Reporting Agencies: Cases reported to multiple law enforcement agencies require DOJ to follow up with each agency, prolonging the processing time.
  • Lack of Law Enforcement Response: Delay occurs if law enforcement agencies do not promptly confirm the completion of the investigation in response to DOJ’s requests.

If you have not received a response from DOJ after 120 days, practitioners may follow up via email. If you have not received a response after sending the follow-up email, please reach out to CAST for technical assistance so that we may liaise with DOJ on your behalf. CAST will not follow up with DOJ prior to the 120 days.

Additionally, we encourage you to join our Legal Working Group call for the latest trends regarding DOJ early adjustment letters.