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Laws current as of September 18, 2019

How does USCIS determine if I am a victim of a "severe form of human trafficking"?

When deciding whether someone is a trafficking victim (known under the law as a victim of a “severe form of human trafficking”), the government looks at whether the traffickers used or threatened to use force, coercion, or fraud to control the victim. Here are some examples of what this means: Traffickers may physically take people and force them to provide sex or labor they don’t want to do (“force,” which includes abduction); they may persuade someone to provide sex or labor they don’t want to do because they threaten them or people they care about (“coercion”); or they may promise freedom and legal work but in reality force them to provide sex or work against their will (“fraud,” which includes deception).

Many traffickers keep their victims working by threatening to hurt or punish them. The threat could be made to the victim directly or actions can be taken against another trafficking victim as a warning of what could happen. For example, a trafficker may rape a fellow worker to show that “this is what will happen to you if you don’t do what I want.” Traffickers may also make threats to harm the victim’s family members and loved ones, such as threatening to send someone to the victim’s homeland to rape, kill, or harm his/her family. Traffickers often threaten to call the police or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to get victims who challenge them deported. Threats to report the victim to the police are known as “abuse of the legal process.” Keeping people in a trafficking situation this way is “involuntary servitude or slavery.” 1

For more information, you can go to the website of the government agency that decides T visas, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

1 22 U.S.C. § 7102(7)