Human Trafficking, U Visas, & T Visas

Human Trafficking is the exploitation of human beings through force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex or forced labor. Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was present. In order to complete a U Visa certification, DFEH must find that you were a victim of a certain crime, or that someone attempted, conspired, or asked (solicited) someone else to commit a crime against you. DFEH must also find that you have been helpful or are likely to be helpful to its investigation or prosecution of your case.


Know your Rights

Human trafficking does not necessarily involve smuggling or moving victims from outside of the country or state, or from one place to another. It means using force, fraud, duress, coercion or equivalent conduct to obtain labor or services. This can occur in private homes, in agricultural fields, factories, restaurants, in brothels or strip clubs, or in any other industry. It can occur in rural and urban areas, and victims can be anyone: men or women; adults or children; people with little or no education or with advanced degrees; undocumented migrants, U.S. citizens, or documented immigrants.

Legal definitions of Human trafficking – External Site

SB 970 (external site) requires that, by January 1, 2020, hotel and motel employers provide at least 20 minutes of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding human trafficking awareness to each employee who is likely to interact or come into contact with victims of human trafficking and who is employed as of July 1, 2019. Employers must also provide such training to new employees likely to interact or come into contact with victims of human trafficking within six months of their employment in that role. An employer who has provided this training and education to an employee on or before January 1, 2019, is not required to provide additional training.

To learn more about human trafficking:

State of California Attorney General website

United States Department of Justice Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit website

Take Action

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.

Call a 24-hour hotline to access help and services or to report a suspected situation of human trafficking:

  • National Human Trafficking Resource Center: call 1-888-373-7888 or TEXT: Be Free or 233733
  • California Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST): call 1-888-KEY-2FRE(EDOM) or 1-888-539-2373

The hotlines are:

  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Toll-free
  • Operated by non-profit, non-governmental organizations
  • Anonymous and confidential
  • Accessible in more than 160 languages
  • Able to provide help, referral to services, training, and general information

Available Remedies

Civil remedies available under the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act:

  • Actual Damages (economic damages, including lost wages, cost of medical treatments, etc.)
  • Compensatory Damages (payment for emotional suffering and distress)
  • Punitive Damages
  • Injunctive Relief (includes restraining orders)
  • Treble Damages or Civil Penalty: the person filing the complaint may be awarded three times the amount of actual damages, or $10,000, whichever is greater
  • Attorney’s Fees

U Visas

A U Visa is a United States nonimmigrant visa which is set aside for victims of crimes (and their immediate family members) who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse while in the U.S. and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. It permits such victims to enter or remain in the US when they might not otherwise be able to do so.

To obtain a U Visa, victims of qualifying crimes must demonstrate to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services their willingness to cooperate in the investigation or prosecution of the crime, among other requirements (please see U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status for a fuller explanation).

Your U Visa application must be supported by a certification from a law enforcement agency, such as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Either you or your representative must ask that DFEH complete a U Visa certification on your behalf.

In order to complete a U Visa certification, DFEH must find that you were a victim of a certain crime, or that someone attempted, conspired, or asked (solicited) someone else to commit a crime against you. DFEH must also find that you have been helpful or are likely to be helpful to its investigation or prosecution of your case.

Below is the list of crimes that can support a U Visa certification. The crime must have occurred in the United States, or have violated United States’ laws:

Abduction
Abusive Sexual Contact
Blackmail
Domestic Violence
Extortion
False Imprisonment
Female Genital Mutilation
Felonious Assault
Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
Hostage
Incest
Involuntary Servitude
Kidnapping
Manslaughter
Murder
Obstruction of Justice
Peonage
Perjury
Prostitution
Rape
Sexual Exploitation
Slave Trade
Stalking
Torture
Trafficking
Witness Tampering
Unlawful Criminal Restraint
Other Related Crimes*†

*Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.

†Also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes.

T Visas

A T visa is a type of visa allowing certain victims of human trafficking and immediate family members to remain and work temporarily in the United States, typically if they report the crime to law enforcement, and agree to help them in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime (or crimes) committed against them. It also allows close family members of the victims to come to the United States legally.

To obtain a T Visa, victims must demonstrate to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services their willingness to comply with a reasonable request from a law enforcement agency to cooperate in the investigation or prosecution of a human trafficking case, among other requirements (please see U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Victims of Human trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status for a fuller explanation). There is an exception to this requirement for those under the age of 18, or those who are unable to cooperate due to trauma. USCIS strongly encourages individuals to submit a declaration from a law enforcement agency, such as DFEH, in support of their application.

Either you or your representative must ask that DFEH complete a T Visa certification on your behalf.

In order to complete a T Visa certification, DFEH must find that you are a victim of human trafficking and that you are in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to the trafficking. DFEH must also find that you have been helpful or are likely to be helpful in its investigation or civil prosecution of the trafficking, or that you are a minor or are unable to cooperate due to trauma.


Communication Center: 800-884-1684 (voice), 800-700-2320 (TTY) or
California's Relay Service at 711 | contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov