WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: Federal


View all
May 6, 2013

Requirement 1: You are or have been the victim of a severe form of trafficking.

In the above question called Am I eligible for a T-visa?, we list the requirements that you have to meet to be eligible to apply for a T-visa.  In this section, we explain the first requirement in detail.

Requirement 1: You are or have been the victim of a severe form of trafficking.  What does “a severe form of human trafficking” mean?

Human trafficking has been described by the US Citizen and Immigration Services as a “form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers lure individuals with false promises of employment and a better life.”*

According to the law, a "severe form of human trafficking" has to fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Sex trafficking - This is when the victim (trafficked person) is forced, tricked, or coerced into selling sex acts for money or anything of value -- in other words, forced or coerced prostitution. (Note: If the victim is under 18 years of age, the law automatically assumes that the victim was forced, tricked, or coerced.)
  • Trafficking that leads to debt bondage / peonage – This is when the victim (trafficked person) is forced to work indefinitely (without any reasonable limits on services or time) to pay off the person who smuggled him/her into the United States.  Generally, the victim has no way to know when his/her debt is going to be paid off or how much his/her debt has been reduced by the work s/he has already performed.
  • Trafficking that leads to involuntary servitude / slavery / forced labor – This is when the trafficker uses threats or physical force to make the victim (trafficked person) work.  Traffickers could threaten to physically harm the victim or the victim’s family and loved ones, but may also threaten to report the victim to the police (for his/her immigration status, prostitution, etc.) if s/he does not continue to work for the trafficker.  The threats to report the victim to the police are known as “abuse of the legal process.”**

For more information on how “severe trafficking in persons” is defined by the government, visit the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

* U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website
** 22 USC § 7102(8)