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USCIS Issues Updated Guidance on T-Visa Adjudications

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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.

Specifically, USCIS:

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Clarifies how USCIS defines the term “harboring,” an enumerated action under the federal definition4 of severe form of trafficking in persons.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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authorization for 24 months, starting from the expiration date on the Form I-94, unless the Form I-485 is denied or withdrawn.

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