T nonimmigrant status (often called a “T visa”) is a form of immigration relief for survivors of human trafficking that provides four years of lawful immigration status, employment authorization, access to certain public benefits, and the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. However, the current U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy on Notices to Appear (NTA), which has been in effect since 2018, has drastically increased the risks of applying for T nonimmigrant status. Although T visas remain a vital pathway to lawful status for trafficking survivors, there are various considerations that trafficking survivors and their advocates should keep in mind when deciding whether to submit affirmative T visa applications. Although USCIS issued its NTA Memo in June 2018, it was not officially implemented against T visa applicants until November 2018, and practitioners did not begin reporting many denials and NTAs issued until 2019. Now that advocates have experienced the NTA Memo’s implementation, this advisory reviews the policy’s impact on noncitizens applying for T nonimmigrant status as survivors of a severe form of human trafficking, with practice tips interspersed throughout.
U Visa/T Visa/VAWA