-- PHILIPPINE immigration: HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND IMMIGRATION RELIEF ~ Travel and Immigration 101
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Monday, July 18, 2011

PHILIPPINE immigration: HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND IMMIGRATION RELIEF

When we talk about travel and immigration, human trafficking always comes next. That is why our government creates a law about this one. The Trafficking Victim Protection Act of 2000 is the pertinent law on human trafficking. It defines the victims of severe forms of trafficking and it delineates what is considered mere exploitation, and when such exploitation rises to the level of human trafficking. There is a distinction between alien smuggling and human trafficking.

Human trafficking encompasses all ages, as well as men and women of varying educational levels.

Trafficking may start from the country of origin or when the person is already inside the United States. It is ironic that traffickers often victimize people from their own ethnic group.

SCENARIOS

Trafficking often involves fraud or coercion and could arise from simple exploitative employment to sophisticated and highly organized operations resulting in the exploitation of the victims.

Trafficking can arise from what appears as a legitimate recruitment business to criminal operations.

Several men from a certain village worked in the Middle East. When the security situation in that region worsened, they returned home, only to find out that life back home was difficult and there were only a few jobs. Soon, they found themselves flocking to the office of a recruiter.

The recruiter promised jobs in exchange for placement fees, which the job applicants agreed to pay by signing promissory notes in favor of a lender, who advanced the placement fees. After receiving their visas, the job applicants were herded to a hotel room and were introduced to a lender. The workers were promised housing, a certain rate and assured jobs upon arrival. The workers were met by an associate of the recruiter and were made to surrender their passports. There were four to a room in the workers' quarters, so it was difficult to have privacy.

The promises crumbled quickly when the workers could not immediately find work. Meanwhile, their family members were being harassed by the lender who advanced the placement fee.

Another scenario involved a woman who was offered a position in the U.S. after a battery of interviews. She was excited to start working immediately and save up money to pay off bills.

When she arrived, she was driven to a nightclub, where she joined several terrified young ladies. Her passport was taken away from her and she was required to service customers sexually to pay off her travel expenses and other costs incurred when she was transported to her "employer,"

IMMIGRATION RELIEF

The T visa provides relief to victims of severe forms of trafficking. Other types of relief may be available too, so it is worth exploring all immigration options.

The T visa is available for four years, with the possibility of adjusting into a lawful permanent resident at the end of the third year.

To avail of this visa option, the following requirements must be met: a severe form of trafficking must exist (sexual or labor exploitation); the victim is present on account of trafficking in persons; the victim has complied with a reasonable request for assistance from a law enforcement agency; and the victim will suffer extreme hardship if removed from the United States.

The U visa is another form of relief that a victim of human trafficking may qualify for. Just like the T visa, the U visa is available for four years, with the possibility of adjusting into a lawful permanent resident at the end of the third year.

The requirements for a U visa are as follows: the individual is the victim of one of the crimes listed under the law; the victim possesses information about the crime; the victim is willing to cooperate with law enforcement officers; and the victim suffered mental or physical abuse because of the crime.

There are other forms of relief available pursuant to laws such as the Violence against Women Act, political asylum (if applicable) and a special immigrant juvenile status may be available to minors.

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