Terms You Should Know about Human Trafficking

Chattel Slavery:

A situation where one person assumes complete legal ownership over another. It is the only type where the slave is considered the legal property of the slaveholder, and exists today (although it is illegal) primarily in Mauritania and other parts of Northern Africa. This is the type of slavery that existed in the American South.


Threats or perceived threats of serious harm to or physical constraints against any person; a scheme intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform will result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person.

Continued Presence:

Allows victims who lack legal status and are assisting law enforcement as potential witnesses to remain in the country for the course of criminal investigation. Through continued presence, victims can receive temporary immigration relief.

Contract Slavery:

A situation where worker is deceived into slavery through the use of a false employment contract. These contracts convince people that there are job opportunities, but when they arrive, they are forced to work without pay and cannot leave. The false contracts are used to avoid criminal charges or to prove that a “debt” is owed to the slaveholder.


The name for people who do not belong to one of the four major Hindu castes in India. Also known as “untouchables,” they are the poorest Indian people and are heavily discriminated against, so they are extremely vulnerable to slavery.

Debt Bondage:

A condition where a person is held as collateral for a debt. Whatever work they do does not technically belong to them, because they are collateral. So, their work does not repay the debt. It is the most common method of enslavement in the world today, accounting for nearly 20 million of the world’s slaves. The debt is passed down from generation to generation, creating hereditary enslavement. This system is well-entrenched in South Asia, and can trap entire families in slavery for illegal debts as small as $40.

EAD/Work Authorization:

Trafficking victims whom have continued presence are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that proves that the victim is legally employable in the United States.

Federal Law Enforcement Authorization (LEA):

Refers to any federal law enforcement agency that has the responsibility and authority for the detection, investigation, or prosecution of severe forms of trafficking in persons. Qualified LEAs include, but are not limited to, the offices of the Department of Justice, United States Attorney, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE), United States Marshal Service, and the Diplomatic Security Service of the Department of State. Certification of a person as a "trafficking victim" by a LEA is required by the TVPA before a trafficking victim can apply for the T Visa.

Human Smuggling:

Helping someone to illegally cross country borders, often without identification or papers, for financial or material benefit. Smuggling ends with the arrival of the migrants at their destination, whereas trafficking involves the ongoing exploitation of the victims in some manner to generate illicit profits for the traffickers.

Human Trafficking:

The use of force, fraud or coercion to bring a person into conditions of extreme exploitation. Trafficking can occur within a country or across international borders and does not have to involve movement. For example, in the U.S., anyone under 18 in prostitution is considered a trafficking victim.

Involuntary Servitude:

Forcing a person to work through threats, harm, physical abuse, restraint or legal retaliation.

Migrant Labor:

Work done by people who travel all over for employment. Usually, these people are immigrants, sometimes illegal, and often exploited by their employer. Much of the work is agricultural, and the workers move around the country to harvest crops during different growing seasons. They are usually paid little for work, sometimes crossing the line into slavery when they are paid nothing and unable to leave.


Holding someone against his or her will to pay off a debt.


Temporary Visa for which certified trafficking victims can apply. T-Visa holders can apply for permanent residency offer 3 years.

Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 (TVPA):

Federal U.S. legislation passed in 2000 that emphasizes the prevention of trafficking, protection of victims and the prosecution of traffickers.

New Jersey Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force
Free the Slaves