Requesting Declarations for T Nonimmigrant Status (T Declarations)
Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments
Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule
In 2000, Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act to encourage victims, regardless of immigration status, to report crimes, and to support law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute human trafficking, such as sex or labor trafficking as defined by federal law. The law authorized T nonimmigrant status (commonly referred to as “T visa”), which can be sought by immigrants who are victims of a severe form of human trafficking and who assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. T nonimmigrant status is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), and once granted it provides these victims with temporary nonimmigrant status so that they can remain in the United States.
Immigrant victims must satisfy several federal statutory requirements to apply for T nonimmigrant status, which include demonstrating that he or she has been a victim of a severe form of human trafficking and has complied with any request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. A primary way that victims can demonstrate this is to submit a law enforcement declaration (USCIS Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons). Although this declaration is not required for the T nonimmigrant status application, USCIS considers the signed law enforcement declaration as primary evidence that the victim has been the victim of a severe form of human trafficking and is assisting or has assisted in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. Victims may apply for declarations on their own, and the assistance of an attorney is not required.
Under the law, law enforcement agencies, such as the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), have the discretion to approve or deny a declaration. The NYPD is committed to serving all communities in the City of New York, especially those vulnerable to victimization, and recognizes the value of completing declarations and supporting immigrant victims of human trafficking who are helpful in investigations or prosecutions. USCIS has sole authority to grant immigration benefits, including the T nonimmigrant status. Therefore, an approved and completed declaration by the NYPD does not guarantee T nonimmigrant status or any legal immigration status. The NYPD does not charge any fee to review requests.
The NYPD is proposing the following rule to inform the public about the NYPD’s T declaration process. The rule:
- Directs the manner by which applicants may request T declarations,
- Provides a timetable within which the NYPD will process the requests, and
- Specifies the appeals process for denials of the requests.