U.S. visas available for trafficking victims

Immigration law professor Julie Dinnerstein (l.-r.) and USCIS employees Lynn Boudreau, Scott Whelan and Andrea Quarantillo discuss at a forum avenues available to immigrants who are victims of sex trafficking and other crimes.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Long Island City hosted a forum Tuesday to get the word out about legal options for immigrants who have been victims of human trafficking, abuse or domestic violence.

“We know there are victims out there and there is help available,” said Andrea Quarantillo, district director of USCIS for New York City, at the office at 27-35 Jackson Ave.

Scott Whelan, of the USCIS’s office of policy and strategy, said there are three ways that can help immigrants who have been victimized.

First, T visas allow victims of all types of trafficking — forced labor, sexual or involuntary servitude — to stay and work in the United States on a temporary basis.

Whelan said many victims of this underground crime end up dead.

“Human trafficking is a brutal crime,” he said.

A U visa is available for victims of abuse and other crimes, Whelan said. Immigrants who suffer from domestic violence, both female and male, also can apply for legal status without having to go through their abusive spouse under the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act.

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