NEW YORK — New hope for trafficking survivor Noel Adia, as his case was reinstated after it was mistakenly dismissed due to an acronym wrongly read by a judge.
After paying a placement fee of $3,500 — money he borrowed from a loan shark in the Philippines — Noel Adia, a former mechanical engineer in the Philippines, came to the U.S. legally in 2007 to work as a hotel housekeeper, under an H-2-B temporary guest worker program.
“Nagtrabaho ako ng dishwasher, sa labas. Hindi alam yun ng petitioner, kasi para lang mabayaran ko yung utang ko na $3,500, nag work ako ng dishwasher sa hospital,” said Adia.
But when his temporary visa was about to expire in 2010, a new employer offered him a hotel job in South Carolina.
Immigration Attorney Felix Vinluan said Adia did get a job, but unfortunately, he wasn’t paid properly and he even got threats from his employer.
“That’s trafficking because he was forced to continue working under circumstances whereby if he didn’t continue working he would suffer some sort of harm.”
But instead of a getting an H-2-b transfer sponsorship visa, Grandeur filed a b1/b2 tourist visa, which USCIS eventually denied.
“May balita ako na na-disitribute yung iba sa florida, ako kasi sa New York ako na distribute, na dinala, pero in the end wala rin silang visa… hindi rin nag work out ng visa nila.”
Adia filed a trafficking case against Grandeur but a southern district of New York judge dismissed Adia’s complaint after the judge mistakenly thought the acronym TVPA meant Torture Victim Protection Act, when it was really Trafficking Victim Protection Act.
Court records show that the case has been remanded to the southern district for further proceedings — which means Adia’s case will continue to be heard in New York.
And thanks to a T-visa or trafficking visa provided by the USCIS, he can now legally live and work in New York.
He is eligible to change his status to permanent resident and reunite with his 2 kids soon.