Estonian Sex Trafficking Victim Secures T-Visa

March 24, 2021

Cleary Gottlieb successfully represented Ms. T, a citizen of Estonia, in her application for T nonimmigrant status (T-visa).

A T-visa is a form of immigration relief available to individuals who are or have been victims of human trafficking. Brooklyn Defender Services referred Ms. T’s case to Cleary while she was in immigration detention.

In an effort to escape severe domestic violence in Estonia, Ms. T contacted what she believed to be a legitimate employment agency that advertised job placements in the United States. After the agency arranged for Ms. T’s travel to the United States, a man picked her up at the airport and brought her to an apartment where he was holding approximately 12 other women. Over the following years, the man forced Ms. T to engage in sex acts against her will at strip clubs. If she tried to object, the man physically and verbally abused her and threatened to hurt her loved ones in Estonia. Ms. T was finally able to escape her trafficking when the man suddenly disappeared. Afterward, however, she was detained by immigration officials and placed into removal proceedings.

Cleary helped Ms. T report her traffickers to law enforcement and filed a T-visa application for her in March 2019. After the application was approved in March 2021, Ms. T is now able to lawfully live and work in the United States and will eventually be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence and U.S. citizenship. In addition, the T-visa will provide a basis for terminating Ms. T’s removal proceedings, thus preventing her deportation from the United States.