United States immigration law provides protection for certain victims of trafficking and other serious crimes. Such individuals may apply for T or U nonimmigrant visas depending on the circumstances of their cases. After three years in either nonimmigrant status, they can request lawful permanent residency status.
Victims of severe forms of human trafficking may be eligible to seek what is known as a T visa. Severe trafficking includes a wide range of abusive situations, generally involving victims who are tricked or coerced into living or working in terribly inhumane conditions in the United States. A T visa allows trafficking victims to remain in the United States and to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking violations. Individuals granted T visas can apply for permanent residence after three years of being in T visa status or once the relevant trafficking investigation or prosecution is complete. Certain family members of an individual with T visa status may also be eligible for permanent residency.
Victims of certain designated crimes in the United States who have consequently suffered physical or mental harm may be eligible for U visas. In order to qualify for a U visa, the individual must be willing to assist law enforcement officials in the investigation or prosecution of the underlying crime. Individuals who have been granted U visas may apply for permanent residency after three years of being in U visa status if they also meet certain requirements.