Immigrants and children are sometimes targeted by those who choose to take advantage of others, because they often are unaware of their rights and may be afraid to speak with the police to request protection or make a complaint.
The U.S. government has created several benefits available to victims of crime or abuse, to encourage these people to cooperate with the police in putting criminals behind bars.
One unfortunate crime against immigrants and children is human trafficking. When the word trafficking is mentioned, many think of sex trafficking. Of course, sex trafficking is an extremely terrible crime which should always be reported to the police. However, in accordance with federal law, there are many other behaviors that could be considered trafficking. For example, if someone is brought to the United States to work as a nanny or an employee, and the family or the employer force them to work long hours without appropriate compensation, this could be considered labor trafficking. If an employer tells an undocumented immigrant that he or she must do extra work, and threatens to call the police or call immigration if the immigrant doesn’t follow instructions, this could be labor trafficking. Even if an undocumented immigrant tells an employer he or she is quitting a job, and the employer threatens to call immigration or the police if the person doesn’t finish the job, that can be considered trafficking.
Many who have been victims of trafficking can qualify for a T visa, or trafficking visa. To qualify, the immigrant needs to show that they have been a victim of trafficking, that they have suffered substantial harm because of the trafficking, that they have been helpful in any investigation, and that they would suffer harm if forced to return to their home country, among other things. A T visa can potentially lead to permanent residency for the victim, along with members of the victim’s family, including spouse, children, minor siblings and sometimes parents. A strong advantage of the T visa is that while there are numerical limitations, there is not a long waiting period like there is for a U visa, which is another visa available for victims of certain crimes.
Victims of trafficking can also seek civil penalties against the perpetrator in Federal court. A court can award a victim any damages incurred, including court costs, attorney fees, punitive damages and compensatory damages.
For questions about the T visa or any other immigration topic feel free to call our office at 317-567-0000.