While most people are unaware of the extent and scope of human trafficking, the sad fact is that it persists to an unacceptable degree and in countries most people believe are free from crime of this nature. And very often, its victims are victimized long after they are released from whatever situation prompted their unwilling flight.
Human trafficking is defined as a form of slavery in which people “profit from the exploitation and control of others.” Most people think of sexual slavery, but trafficking victims are made to labor in many industries against their will. Some people conflate trafficking with people smuggling, but smuggling people is consensual, while human trafficking is not. Trafficking victims are essentially objects to the trafficker, devoid of autonomy.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that approximately 21 million people are victims of human trafficking each year, and over half of whom are female. Most of them come from poor, urban areas in Asia and Eastern Europe, such as Cambodia and Poland. The United States is a destination and transit country for victims, meaning that they are brought here to be exploited.
U.S. law puts trafficking victims into three categories: (1) children under 18 coerced into the sex industry, (2) adults induced into the sex industry by fraud or coercion, and (3) children and adults induced to provide other labor services by fraud or coercion. While there is no distinction between these categories in terms of immigration, it does influence how and when victims may be entitled to compensation.
T Visas: Escape
There is help for victims of trafficking, however, if they know where to look. The United States passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000, which created the T and U visas. T visas are designed to help human trafficking victims remain in the United States to assist law enforcement in the apprehension of traffickers. While a T visa is not an immigrant visa, it is enough, in many instances, to allow a victim to extricate themselves from their controller, and get his or her life back on track.
An individual is eligible for a T visa if he or she:
Certain family members may also apply for what are called derivative visas, but the categories are limited. If you are a minor, your parents, unmarried minor siblings, spouse, and children may apply for T-2 (derivative) visas. If you are an adult, your spouse and children may apply, but not your parents or siblings.
Seek Professional Assistance
As with any visa application, a T visa may be easier to obtain if you have professional help with you. The Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC have years of experience with immigration and asylum law, and we know how to ask the tough questions to get the answers you need. Contact our office today to discuss your options; we will do our best to help.
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