A Closer Look at USCIS’s Updated T Nonimmigrant Status Regulations Effective August 2024

USCIS announced a final rule amending the regulations on the requirements and procedures for victims of human trafficking seeking T nonimmigrant status. This rule is effective on Aug. 28, 2024, and applies to benefit requests that are pending or filed on or after that date.

The final rule reflects a victim-centered approach, clarifies the requirements, and introduces provisions to reduce potential barriers to victims. These clarifications will enable USCIS officers to adjudicate more efficiently and effectively. The final rule also improves the program’s integrity by clarifying the reporting and evidence requirements for victims of trafficking, which will better help law enforcement act on reports of trafficking. Key elements of the final rule include: 

  • Updating and clarifying definitions – including serious harm, abuse, and law enforcement agency – to ensure consistency and standards as described in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended;  
  • Improving program efficiency by clarifying reporting and evidence requirements on the outset to decrease requests for additional evidence;
  • Streamlining law enforcement agencies’ ability to act on reports of trafficking by requiring victims to report instances of trafficking to the correct law enforcement agency of jurisdiction; and
  • Simplifying the bona fide determination and adjudication process, while continuing to uphold fraud prevention measures.

Revised Bona Fide Determination Process
This final rule also lays out the framework for considering filings under the bona fide determination process, which includes background checks and case review. USCIS will continue to prioritize adjudications for T nonimmigrant status and, subject to available resources and processing times, consider applications under the bona fide determination process. This process will apply to cases filed on or after the effective date of the rule.

When an individual whose application is deemed bona fide files Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, USCIS will consider whether to grant them deferred action and an Employment Authorization Document while we continue to adjudicate their application for T nonimmigrant status. USCIS recommend that applicants submit a (fee-exempt) Form I-765 at the same time as their Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status.

The T nonimmigrant status program was established in 2002. On Dec. 19, 2016, DHS published an interim final rule to respond to public feedback, clarify requirements based on statutory changes, formalize the experience gained from operation of the program for more than 14 years, and amend the regulations as required by intervening legislation. In July 2021, DHS reopened the public comment period for the 2016 interim rule for 30 days and subsequently extended the deadline for comments. This final rule responds to public comments, clarifies eligibility requirements, and ensures application requirements conform to current law.

USCIS link: https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-strengthens-t-nonimmigrant-visa-program-and-protections-for-trafficking-victims