< Back to Search

Who We Serve - Victims of human trafficking

Published: October 2, 2012

Definition

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons” as:

  • Sex Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act , in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years; or
  • Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

Eligibility

The TVPA makes adult victims of severe forms of trafficking who are not U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and who have been certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) eligible for benefits and services under any Federal or State program or activity to the same extent as refugees.

Certification provides foreign victims of trafficking with the necessary documentation to be eligible to receive benefits and services they may need to rebuild their lives in the United States. Victims of trafficking who are U.S. citizens do not need to be certified to receive benefits.

To receive certification, victims of trafficking must:

  • Be a victim of a severe form of trafficking, as defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)
  • Be willing to assist in every reasonable way in the investigation and prosecution of severe forms of trafficking or be unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma; and
  • Have completed a bona fide application for a T visa that has not been denied; or
  • Have received continued presence status from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in order to contribute to the prosecution of human traffickers.

Once they have met the certification requirements listed above, victims of trafficking will receive an official letter of certification from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Foreign child victims of trafficking (under the age of 18) do not need to be certified in order to receive services and benefits. ORR will issue a letter stating that a child is a victim of a severe form of trafficking and is therefore eligible for benefits.