With the T non-immigrant visa, you may be eligible to get a green card if you were the victim of human trafficking and you assisted law enforcement with the investigation and/or prosecution of the trafficking case. You may qualify for the green card if you meet the following criteria:
- You were lawfully admitted to the United States as a T-1 non-immigrant;
- You have T-1 non-immigrant status at the time of applying for a Green Card;
- You have maintained continuous physical presence in the United States for either:
- A continuous period of at least 3 years since the date when you were first lawfully admitted as a T-1 nonimmigrant; or
- A continuous period during the trafficking investigation or prosecution which is now complete, whichever period of time is shorter.
- You have good moral character since first being admitted as a T-1 non-immigrant and during the green card process; and
- You meet one of the following:
- You have assisted with the investigation and continued to assist until USCIS completed the application process;
- You would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were removed from the United States; or
- You were under 18 years of age at the time of the trafficking.
The upside of this process is you can apply yourself after having T-1 status and maintaining 3 years of continuous presence by filing the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You must also include all the evidence showing you meet all of the eligibility requirements above.
What it means to have Continuous Presence
You must not be outside of the United States for more than 90 days for each travel period or for more than 180 days for all trips over the three (3) year period. If you find that you are outside of the United States for more than 90 days in one trip or more than 180 days during more than one trip, an exception may apply if:
- Your absence was necessary for the investigation; or
- An official certifies that your absence was justified.
Adjustment of Status Process
If you are located in the United States, you may be able to submit an adjustment of status application. Generally, this involves submitting the petition and the adjustment of status application, attending a biometrics appointment and then the final interview some months or years later.
Family members who received T status with you may also be eligible to apply for a green card and there is the additional advantage of not having to meet the three (3) year continuous presence requirement of the T-1 non-immigrant. Family members of the T-1 non-immigrant would have to submit their Form I-485 at the same time as the T-1 non-immigrant, or while the T-1 non-immigrant’s application is pending or already approved.
Before applying for the green card through the adjustment of status process you should make sure that this is the right process for you. You should also consider applying for employment authorization and advanced parole. Advanced parole will allow you to travel outside of the United States during the adjustment of status application process. Each of the pieces of this process can get complicated. If you miss something or make mistakes, it could mean a delayed process or even a denial. It is important to tread carefully and be meticulous through this process.
When considering whether to go through with this type of green card application, it is important to take other circumstances and factors into consideration. Failing to do this may cause complications in the application process. For instance, any facts that involve previous denials, past immigration and criminal violations, previous marriages that involved filings, entry with other types of visas, tax issues, visa overstays, and previous employment in the United States can be just as important as the basic eligibility criteria. A single criminal violation, whether a misdemeanor or more serious, or previous immigration violation can lead you to be inadmissible to the United States, which may require additional steps to get a green card, such as a waiver.
It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with your case. An attorney will help to guide you through preparing the petition, assist with gathering evidence, and advocate vigorously for you during the process. Here at ST Law Office, I have dedicated my practice solely to immigration matters. I vigorously advocate no matter how simple or complicated the matter. Don’t hesitate to call us at 561-405-4889 or to schedule your initial phone, online or in-person consultation now.