Form I-914 Application Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, is a legal document used in the United States by individuals who have been victims of severe forms of human trafficking. It allows these individuals to request temporary immigration benefits and provides a mechanism for these victims to remain in the United States to assist law enforcement with investigations or prosecutions of human trafficking activities. This form is a critical part of a broader array of immigration protections designed to combat human trafficking and to offer support to its victims.

The form requires applicants to provide personal information, including their name, address, and immigration status details, such as a social security or alien registration number. Additionally, evidence of the trafficking experience is necessary to support the application. The eligibility to file Form I-914 extends to those physically present in the United States or at a port of entry due to trafficking.

Applicants may also include certain family members in their submission through Supplement A of Form I-914, ensuring that the protections can extend to immediate relatives who might also be at risk. The instructions associated with Form I-914 provide guidance on the required documentation, filing procedures, and criteria for eligibility, aiming to assist applicants in navigating the complexities of the immigration system while seeking relief from severe human rights violations.

Eligibility Requirements

Form I-914 is a legal gateway for certain individuals subjected to severe forms of human trafficking to obtain temporary immigration benefits in the United States.

Definition of a ‘T’ Nonimmigrant

A ‘T’ nonimmigrant status is designated for victims of human trafficking. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines severe forms of trafficking as either sex trafficking, where individuals are compelled to perform commercial sex acts through force, fraud, or coercion, or labour trafficking, which involves recruiting, harbouring, or obtaining a person for labour or services using similar exploitative means.

Qualifications for the Principal Applicant

To qualify for T nonimmigrant status as a principal applicant, an individual must:

  • Be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, as defined by the USCIS.
  • Be present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking.
  • Comply with any reasonable request from law enforcement for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (unless they are under the age of 18, or unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma).
  • Demonstrate that they would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if they were removed from the United States.

Family Members’ Eligibility

Eligible family members of the principal applicant may also qualify for T nonimmigrant status. The definition of eligible family members includes:

  • Spouse: A legally recognized husband or wife of the principal applicant.
  • Children: Unmarried children under 21 years of age of the principal applicant.
  • Parents: If the principal applicant is under 21 years of age, they can apply on behalf of their parents.
  • Unmarried Siblings Under 18: If the principal applicant is under 21 years of age, they can also apply for their unmarried siblings who are under 18 years of age.

USCIS ensures that the eligibility of children is preserved, even if they turn 21 while the application is being adjudicated, provided they were under 21 when the principal application was filed.

Application Process

The application process for Form I-914 is a critical pathway for victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons to obtain temporary immigration benefits in the United States. It encompasses a specific set of requirements, including detailed documentation and strict deadlines for filing.

Form I-914 Overview

Form I-914 is specifically used to apply for T Nonimmigrant Status. This provision is aimed at providing legal protection to victims of human trafficking. The applicant must have been a victim of a severe form of trafficking and be willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the acts of trafficking.

Documentation Requirements

To apply for T Nonimmigrant Status, one must submit the following:

  • Form I-914: The main application form.
  • Personal Declaration: Detailing the trafficking experience.
  • Evidence of Trafficking: Corroborating the claim of being a victim.
  • Evidence of Presence in the U.S.: Proving physical presence in the U.S. due to trafficking.
  • Evidence of Cooperation: If age 18 or older, proof of cooperation with reasonable requests from law enforcement, unless unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma.
  • Declaration of Law Enforcement Agency: If available, this supports the claim of compliance with reasonable requests for assistance in trafficking investigation or prosecution.

Filing Deadlines and Procedures

Applicants must adhere to the following deadlines and procedures:

  • Filing Deadline: No statutory deadline, but applicants are encouraged to file as soon as they are eligible.
  • Procedure: The application package must include all required documentation and be sent to the appropriate filing address provided by USCIS.
  • Application Fee: There is no fee for filing Form I-914.
  • Biometrics: Applicants may be required to attend a biometrics appointment.

Applicants should ensure their application is complete and submitted correctly to avoid processing delays.

Law Enforcement Certification

Form I-914 includes a vital component known as the Law Enforcement Certification, necessary for individuals applying for T nonimmigrant status, which is designated for victims of human trafficking.

Purpose of Certification

The Law Enforcement Certification is integral to the application. It serves as evidence that the applicant is a victim of trafficking and is cooperating with law enforcement, or that they have complied with reasonable requests for assistance in an investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking.

Obtaining Certification

To obtain certification, an applicant must secure a declaration from a law enforcement official, judge, or other competent authority. This declaration, provided on Form I-914, Supplement B, must assert the individual’s role as a victim and their cooperation with legal efforts to investigate or prosecute trafficking offences.

Rights and Benefits for T Nonimmigrants

T Nonimmigrant Status provides certain protections and benefits to individuals who have been victims of severe forms of human trafficking. This section outlines the legal rights afforded to recipients of T Status and the eligibility for various benefits designed to aid their recovery and integration.

Legal Rights While Under T Status

Individuals holding T non-immigrant status possess the legal right to stay in the United States temporarily. During this period, they are authorized to work in the U.S., indicated by the eligibility to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Furthermore, they are shielded from being removed from the country and can apply for certain government programs and services designed to assist victims of human trafficking.

Benefits Eligibility

T Nonimmigrant Status recipients are entitled to the following benefits, aimed at facilitating their recovery and aiding their ability to rebuild their lives:

  • Employment: Ability to obtain an EAD and engage in lawful employment in the U.S.
  • Stay of Removal: Protection from deportation and eligibility to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence after three years or upon completion of the investigation or prosecution.
  • Federal and State Programs: Potential eligibility for various federal and state programs and services, such as refugee cash and medical assistance, English language training, and employment preparation.

Adjustment of Status

Victims of severe forms of trafficking holding T nonimmigrant status (T visa) may apply to change their status and become lawful permanent residents.

Eligibility to Adjust Status

Individuals must meet certain criteria to be eligible for adjustment of status from a T nonimmigrant to a lawful permanent resident. A paramount requirement is compliance with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking, or they must be under the age of 18. Additionally, they must have been physically present in the United States for either a continuous period of at least three years since the date of admission as a T nonimmigrant or until the investigation or prosecution is complete, whichever is less. They should also maintain good moral character throughout their stay.

Application Process for Adjustment of Status

To initiate the adjustment of status, eligible T nonimmigrants must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, subsequent to the qualification period. As of December 23, 2022, applicants are obligated to use the latest version of Form I-485. Supporting documentation is crucial and must include government-issued identification, inspection and admission forms, evidence of eligibility, and two passport-style photographs. Applicants will be subjected to background and security checks, and possibly an interview, as part of the evaluation process.

Additional Considerations

In this section, critical factors such as travel limitations and procedures for maintaining or altering T Nonimmigrant Status are discussed. Individuals need to understand these aspects to ensure compliance and prevent jeopardizing their current status.

Travel Abroad and Re-entry

An individual granted T Nonimmigrant Status must obtain advance parole before travelling abroad to ensure re-entry into the United States. Advance parole is a document that permits non-citizens to re-enter the U.S. after travelling abroad without jeopardizing their pending status. It’s crucial to apply for this document well in advance of any planned travel.

  • To apply for advance parole, Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, must be completed and submitted to USCIS.
  • Without advance parole, exiting the U.S. may result in the abandonment of the individual’s T Status.

Extensions and Changes of Status

T Nonimmigrant Status is generally valid for up to four years. Extensions are possible under certain conditions:

  • If law enforcement states that the individual’s presence in the United States is necessary to assist in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking, an extension may be granted.
  • In the event of exceptional circumstances, if the victim could suffer extreme hardship upon removal from the U.S., an extension may also be possible.

Changes to one’s nonimmigrant status must be carefully managed. Individuals may be eligible for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status after three years in T Nonimmigrant Status or once the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking case is complete, whichever occurs earlier.

  • For such adjustments of status, Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, must be filed.

These guidelines highlight critical considerations for T Nonimmigrant Status holders and are aimed at ensuring they maintain their status and navigate the necessary legal processes appropriately.