USCIS Issues Updated Guidance on T-Visa Adjudications
On October 20, 2021 USCIS issued a policy alert wherein they gave updated guidance as to how T-visa applications should be adjudicated. It provides comprehensive guidance on eligibility requirements, evidentiary standards, burdens of proof, admissibility, and travel considerations.
- Clarifies that the age-based exemption to the requirement to comply with reasonable requests for assistance from law enforcement applies based on the victim’s age at the time of victimization.
- Explains how USCIS evaluates the connection between the original victimization and the applicant’s continuing presence in the United States when evaluating the physical presence eligibility requirement.
- Clarifies how USCIS evaluates involuntary servitude claims, including conditions of servitude induced by domestic violence, as well as victimization that may occur during a voluntary smuggling arrangement.
- Clarifies how USCIS defines the term “harboring,” an enumerated action under the federal definition4 of severe form of trafficking in persons.
- Explains that USCIS is adopting the decision issued by the Ninth Circuit in Medina Tovar v. Zuchowski, a case involving adjudication of petitions for U nonimmigrant status, for nationwide application in the adjudication of applications for T nonimmigrant status. Therefore, when evaluating a spousal or stepparent and stepchild relationship between the principal T nonimmigrant applicant and a qualifying family member, USCIS evaluates whether the relationship existed at the time the principal application was favorably adjudicated, rather than when the principal application was filed.
- Clarifies that principal T nonimmigrants seeking to adjust status may present their Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) reflecting their most recent validity period of T nonimmigrant status along with their receipt notice for the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) as evidence of employment authorization for 24 months, starting from the expiration date on the Form I-94, unless the Form I-485 is denied or withdrawn.