U.S. Law Center

T nonimmigrant visas and the path to permanent residency

There are some people who take advantage of others’ desire to move to California or elsewhere in the United States from other countries. They promise safe transportation for a fee, but then their clients become their victims and are forced into slave labor or prostitution. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency states that this illegal behavior is known as human trafficking, and it carries stiff penalties. To apprehend and prosecute these criminals, the federal government offers the T nonimmigrant visa to victims living in the United States who are willing to assist with this process.

Officials recognize that a victim who has been severely traumatized may not be able to work with law enforcement on the case, and he or she may still be eligible for the visa under certain circumstances. All victims must be able to prove that being deported would put them in serious danger before they may apply for this visa. Along with the necessary forms that must be filed with the USCIS, evidence such as police reports, affidavits and court documents may be helpful in securing T nonimmigrant status.

After three continuous years of this status, the USCIS explains that a person may apply for a green card. If the Attorney General has provided certification that the law enforcement action against the human trafficker has been concluded, the T nonimmigrant may file for permanent residence before the three years is up. Throughout the time in the United States up to that point, the victim must have maintained good moral character to qualify. Form I-485, which is the application to register permanent residence or adjust status, can then be filed.

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