On July 12, S&C pro bono client Ms. H was granted a T Visa following the successful appeal of the denial of her initial application with the Administrative Appeals Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The T visa is a nonimmigrant status that is granted to victims of human trafficking, allowing the recipient to lawfully remain in the United States and become eligible for certain federal and state benefits and services. Ms. H had applied for a T Visa after being sexually assaulted by a Customs and Border Patrol officer while detained at a U.S. border facility in Texas.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Ms. H’s T Visa application in October 2020, finding that she was a victim of sexual assault, not of a “severe form of trafficking in persons.” The S&C team, working with Sanctuary for Families, filed an appeal arguing that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ holding was inconsistent with the language and purpose of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and urged them to consider recent federal case law where courts held that the Act’s definition of “sex trafficking” covered coercive sexual assaults—as in Ms. H’s case—even where victims have not been traditionally “trafficked.”
In December 2021, the Administrative Appeals Office granted Ms. H’s appeal, and remanded the case to the Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services for a new decision consistent with its order. Approximately seven months later, Ms. H’s T Visa application was granted, providing her with lawful status in the U.S.
The S&C team, which includes Sharon Cohen Levin, Olivia Chalos, and Regina Roediger, is grateful for the opportunity to work with Sanctuary for Families and deeply overjoyed by the outcome of this case.