US “T” and “U” visas for Victims of Crime or Human Trafficking in the USA

by admin on January 24, 2011

Thailand as well as several other countries in South East Asia are known to be sources or “hubs” in the worldwide human trafficking network. While many of the trafficked victims end up in Europe or other parts of Asia or the Middle East, a large percentage also arrive in the United States every year, for commercial sex work purposes or labor purposes.

As the number of cases stacked up and the realization slowly dawned that the United States was facing an illegal trade in humans of enormous proportions within its borders, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was enacted in 2000. This Act allowed two new visa classes to be created that provide non immigrant visa status to victims of violent crimes in the USA, including victims of human trafficking. The two classes created were the “T” visa and “U” visa. This legislation was passed with the intention of enabling law enforcement professionals to investigate and then prosecute cases of human trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence and other violent crimes occurring in the US. At the same time, it was also meant to provide protection to the victims of such crimes, so they could legally stay in the United States and be permitted to work for up to four years while their case is being prosecuted. These individuals can also eventually apply for permanent residency status in the USA after a certain amount of time has passed on their T or U visa.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines the “T” visa as:  a non immigrant visa designated for individuals who have been victims of a severe form of human trafficking. The USCIS also provides the eligibility requirements to apply for a T visa on their website.  The backbone of this visa arrangement hinges on the victim’s willingness to help the authorities with the investigation, and in some cases provide testimony when the case is prosecuted.

According to USCIS, the “U” visa is a non immigrant visa designated for victims of certain types of crimes, who are willing and able to assist US officials investigating the crime. The U.S. Department of State also provides an overview of the U Non immigration visas for victims of criminal activities and states that this type of visa, like the T visa, is granted to victims that agree to assist the authorities with the investigation of the criminal activities. As of July 2010, an article in The Economic Times reported that the US granted 10,000 U visas to victims of crime and human trafficking.

Thailand on the other hand does not yet have a similar visa class in place for victims that have been trafficked into the country, although this has been a topic of discussion in Thai political circles. Thailand is not only a source country for the export of people sent overseas for forced sex work or forced labor, but also has to contend with this issue domestically.

Related Documents and Articles:

T-VISA for Victims of Human Trafficking

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

joshua January 31, 2013 at 11:03 am

my family T4,T5 has been approved but we need to know what Document to present at the embassy for interview .hoping to hear from you

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