When I was suffering as a victim of human trafficking and domestic violence for two years, I did not know that help was available. And, when I started helping others get help, one hundred per cent of them doubted that they could be free from their misery. I wrote about a particular person who was one of those that have received help through my story in one of my previous blogs. You can read about Hope in my article entitled, It’s world day against trafficking in persons: A personal reflection.
In today’s blog, I will be writing about the three types of visa that victims of crime, including human trafficking, domestic violence, and other types of crime can apply for to help set free like me and many others in the United States. These visas are the T, U, and VAWA visas. But first, I will like to quickly note that this piece is for informational purposes. Every case is unique and dealt with according to the discretion of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) based upon evidence presented to them. I will recommend speaking with an immigration lawyer to assess your case for validity.
It is a non-immigrant visa that allows a victim of human trafficking remain and work in the United States legally for four years. It can lead to a permanent resident status, that is, the recipient is allowed to change his or her status from non-immigrant by applying for a green card. Qualifying family members of the T-Visa recipient can also be granted temporary status in the United States.
The annual cap for T-Visa is 5000. this means that if this cap has been reached in a year, other qualified applicants will be put on a waiting list until the following year.
Like the T-Visa, a U-Visa recipient can also remain and work in the United States for four years after which he or she can apply for a green card as a permanent resident. Qualifying family members can also be granted status in the United States.
Unlike the T-Visa, there is a 10,000 cap for the U-Visa applicants. Other eligible applicants also have to wait until the following year once the limit has been reached in a year.
According to the USCIS, the intent of the T and U visas
- Provides temporary status to certain victims of human trafficking and other qualifying crimes.
- Strengthens law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute human trafficking and other crimes.
- Encourages trafficked, exploited, and abused victims to report crimes, even if they don’t have lawful immigration status.
It is called Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), however, this visa is not only issued to women but also men. It is also available to children and elder parents who have suffered domestic violence in the hands of their family members in the United States. Unlike the T and U Visas that grant nonimmigrant status to the recipient, VAWA grants a green card to the recipient.
Providing required evidence is helpful to the victim. USCIS requires victims to write their own stories in addition to affidavits from friends and families who are aware of the crime. Providing evidence from law enforcement, healthcare and social service providers are also vital in the process of getting restitution for a victim of human trafficking or domestic violence.
Family and Friends
Family and friends play important roles in helping victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Therefore, if you have a family member or friend who might be a victim, you can help the person break free by sharing this kinds of information with them and also supporting them when they need an affidavit from you to make their case.
I will like to note here again like I have mentioned earlier that this article is just for information purpose. I am not an immigration lawyer. Seek the help of an immigration lawyer if you or someone you know might be a victim of human trafficking or domestic violence.
However, The Enitan Story is a Minnesota based nonprofit organization that provides direct services and referrals to victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. You can reach the organization by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be referred to legal service providers close to you if you are not in Minnesota.
For more detail and the kinds of forms to file and evidence to provide, you can download a document provided by the USCIS here.
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Bye for now, until next time.