Form I-914 Application Guide: Your Path to a T Visa

Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, is an integral document for individuals who have been victims of human trafficking seeking temporary immigration benefits in the United States. These benefits are designed to provide a measure of relief while supporting law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute crimes associated with human trafficking. Upon filing this form, eligible applicants have the potential to secure a T Visa, which grants them legal status and may eventually lead to permanent residency under certain conditions.
The form’s usage aligns with the U.S. government’s stance on human rights violations, acknowledging victims’ harrowing experiences and offering a path toward recovery and integration into society. The form is meticulously reviewed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to ensure the legitimacy of the claims and provide protection to those affected.
The eligibility to file Form I-914 is strictly limited to victims of severe forms of trafficking, as defined by U.S. immigration law, ensuring that those who provide critical assistance in the battle against trafficking can reside safely in the U.S. during the legal processes. This framework underlines the humanitarian approach while enforcing laws against those responsible for such egregious crimes.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for Form I-914, specific criteria must be met by victims of certain crimes who seek temporary nonimmigrant status in the United States.

Qualifying Crimes

The applicant must be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons. This encompasses sex trafficking, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under 18 years of age, and labor trafficking, which involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Victim Requirements

Applicants for Form I-914 must demonstrate they have been victims of qualifying crimes and are willing to assist in the investigation or prosecution of those crimes. They should provide evidence proving their status as victims. Additionally, if an applicant filed Form I-914 as a minor, they can apply for certain family members until their application is adjudicated.

Admissibility to the United States

Candidates for T Nonimmigrant Status must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking. They must also meet the requirements set by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for admissibility to the United States or be able to obtain a waiver for inadmissible grounds.

Application Process

The Application Process for T Nonimmigrant Status involves a detailed procedure designed to aid victims of human trafficking. This process includes working with Form I-914, gathering necessary documentation, and following strict submission guidelines.

Form I-914 Overview

Form I-914 allows individuals who have been victims of severe forms of trafficking to apply for T Nonimmigrant Status, providing temporary immigration benefits. Applicants must not have previously filed for T-1 nonimmigrant status unless they renew their benefits.

Supporting Documentation

A collection of supporting documents must accompany the application:

  • Proof of being a victim of trafficking (such as a law enforcement agency endorsement)
  • Evidence supporting the applicant’s claim
  • Any relevant police, court, or medical records

Each document should be clearly labeled and organized to ensure a smooth review process by USCIS.

Application Submission

Applicants must submit Form I-914 to the appropriate USCIS office, as outlined by the most current filing instructions. It is crucial to use the latest version of the form and follow the specific instructions, including where and how to file:

  • Where to File: Depending on the applicant’s location, the form should be sent to the address provided in the instructions.
  • How to File: The form must be typed or printed in ink, signed, and filed with all required evidence.

Failure to comply with submission requirements may result in delays or a denial of the application.

Benefits of Form I-914 Approval

Upon approval of Form I-914, applicants are entitled to certain immigration benefits as victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons, bolstering their ability to live and work in the United States legally.

Employment Authorization

An individual who successfully obtains T Nonimmigrant Status through Form I-914 is granted employment authorization in the United States. This authorization is critical as it allows victims to support themselves financially and begin rebuilding their lives independent of the trafficking enterprise.

Derivative Benefits for Family Members

Family members of an approved T-1 recipient may also receive derivative benefits. These benefits extend to certain immediate family members, allowing them to:

  • Reside legally in the United States.
  • Obtain employment authorization.

By offering these benefits, Form I-914 plays a vital role in the healing and integration process for trafficking victims and their families.

Adjustment of Status Post-Approval

After obtaining T nonimmigrant status using Form I-914, individuals may seek permanent residence in the United States. This change of status is a crucial pathway from temporary to permanent residency for victims of trafficking.

Eligibility for Green Card

To be eligible for a Green Card as a T nonimmigrant status holder:

  • The individual must have been physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least three years since the first date of admission as a T-1 nonimmigrant or until the investigation or prosecution of the acts of trafficking is complete, whichever is less.
  • The applicant must have complied with reasonable requests for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking unless they are under the age of 18 or unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma.
  • The individual must demonstrate good moral character throughout their stay in the U.S. as a T nonimmigrant.

Application Guidelines for Permanent Residence

When applying for a Green Card, T nonimmigrant status holders should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is necessary to adjust from T nonimmigrant status to permanent residency.
  • Provide evidence of eligibility, which includes proof of continuous physical presence and assistance in the investigation or prosecution of trafficking cases.
  • Undergo biometric services as USCIS requested, including fingerprinting and a background check.
  • Attend an interview if called upon by USCIS, where the applicant will be questioned about their application and eligibility.

Government Agencies Involved

The application process for Form I-914 engages primarily two government agencies, both of which play critical roles in the adjudication of T Nonimmigrant Status.

Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for the overarching security aspects of immigration. They are integral to the enforcement and protection parameters related to human trafficking cases, directly influencing the criteria established for Form I-914. Their involvement ensures the process aligns with national security and public safety standards.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a component of DHS. They manage the application process for T Nonimmigrant Status, including Form I-914. USCIS reviews the submissions, assessing whether applicants meet the specific eligibility requirements for obtaining temporary immigration benefits as victims of human trafficking.

Legal Considerations

When filing Form I-914, applicants must understand the legal intricacies, such as the statutory limitations and the safeguards to personal information, to ensure compliance with the law.

Statutory Cap

Form I-914 is related to T Nonimmigrant Status, which is subject to an annual cap of 5,000 principal applicants each fiscal year, excluding immediate family members.

Confidentiality Provisions

Under U.S. law, certain confidentiality protections apply to T visa applicants. Information provided in Form I-914 is protected from disclosure to third parties, with exceptions involving congressional requests or law enforcement needs, as per the following conditions:

  • Congressional requests: Information may only be disclosed when requested by the chairman or ranking member of a committee or subcommittee with jurisdiction.
  • Law enforcement needs: Disclosure is permissible when necessary for law enforcement purposes.

Renewals and Extensions

Applicants holding T Nonimmigrant Status may seek to renew their status or obtain extensions through certain criteria and processes established by USCIS.

Renewal Process

To renew T Nonimmigrant Status, the individual must submit Form I-914, adhering to the instructions provided by USCIS. The renewal application must be filed before their current T Nonimmigrant Status expires. The requisite supporting documentation should accompany the renewal request to ensure successful processing.

Extension Criteria

Extensions may be granted under specific conditions. These criteria include situations where law enforcement officials affirm that the individual’s presence in the United States is necessary to assist in an ongoing investigation or prosecution. Furthermore, the applicant must continue to comply with the requirements of T Nonimmigrant Status, which typically includes aiding in the legal processes against trafficking perpetrators.

Denials and Appeals

When an individual’s Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, is denied, they may have options to appeal the decision. It’s important to understand the common reasons for denial and the subsequent rights and procedures for appeal.

Grounds for Denial

Form I-914 can be denied due to various factors including, but not limited to:

  • Ineligibility: If the applicant does not meet the criteria for T nonimmigrant status, such as failing to demonstrate that they are a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons.
  • Incomplete Application: Lack of necessary documentation or failure to provide complete information can result in denial.
  • Security and Background Check Issues: Issues arising from security checks or the applicant’s background could lead to a denial.

Appeal Rights and Procedures

In the event of a denial, the applicant has the right to appeal, and these are the steps:

  1. Notice of Appeal: Applicants must file a Notice of Appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) within 33 days of the decision.
  2. Filing an Appeal:
    • Applicants must use the designated USCIS forms to file an appeal.
    • The appeal should clearly state the reasons for disagreeing with the denial.
  3. Adjudication:
    • The AAO reviews the appeal and decides.
    • If the AAO dismisses the appeal, the original decision stands.