A non-citizen who is forced into the international sex trade, prostitution, slavery and forced labor through coercion, threats of physical violence, psychological abuse, torture, and imprisonment, is a victim of severe forms of trafficking. To deter these crimes, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The act aims to combat trafficking through increased law enforcement to ensure effective punishment of traffickers, to protect victims, and to provide federal and state assistance to victims.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for determining and issuing certification letters for people who meet the requirements for certification. ORR is also responsible for determining and issuing similar letters to children under age 18 who have been found to be victims of severe forms of trafficking.
Certified or approved individuals will receive T visas. Certain relatives of trafficking victims could be eligible for Derivative T visas under the following conditions:
Victims under the age of 21: derivative visas are available to the spouse of the victim, minor children, unmarried siblings under the age of 18 on the date the victim’s application was filed, and parents.
Victims over the age of 21: derivative visas are available to the victim’s spouse and children.
Do not require proof of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) documentation from trafficking victims. Instead, accept ORR certification letters for adult victims and eligibility letters for victims under age 18 as proof of status for conferring eligibility for benefits. The letter contains an initial eligibility date. Applicants must submit the original letter. Retain a photo copy in the case file and return the original copy to the applicant. Although USCIS documents are not required for benefit eligibility determination purposes, trafficking victims may have a variety of immigration documents, such as an I-94 card, an employment authorization document, or proof of deferred action, or an order of supervision. These documents may be useful in providing identity for the applicant.
The ORR certification/eligibility letters contain a toll-free trafficking verification telephone number to call for verification. You must call the trafficking verification line at 1-866-401-5510 to verify the validity of a claim before providing benefits to the applicant, and to notify ORR of the type of benefits for which the applicant is applying.
If you encounter a trafficking victim who does not have a letter from ORR to prove his or her claim, but appears to meet the condition of victim of severe forms of trafficking, seek consultation from 1 of the following numbers:
For adult victims:
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
For victims under age 18:
You may also contact the DHS Refugee Services section at 651-431-3850.
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Trafficking victims may not yet possess standard identity documents, such as driver’s licenses. If you have difficulty confirming a trafficking victim’s identity, do not automatically deny the application. Contact the trafficking verification line for assistance. Also, you must assist trafficking victims who do not yet have or are unable to obtain Social Security numbers for work purposes to obtain non-work Social Security numbers.
The current Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) does not contain information about trafficking victims. ORR is working with USCIS on this. Until further notice, do not contact the SAVE system to confirm eligibility for benefits for trafficking victims.
Adult victims of a severe form of trafficking who have been certified by ORR and children under age 18 who have been confirmed by ORR as victims of a severe form of trafficking are eligible for benefits to the same extent as refugees. See 0011.03 (Citizenship and Immigration Status).
When eligibility is established, record the applicant’s entry date for refugee assistance benefit purposes. The entry date appears in the body of the ORR certification/eligibility letter.
For additional information on trafficking victims, see the trafficking victims questions and answers in TEMP Manual TE02.05.88 (Trafficking Victims Q&A).