Law Los Angeles

Victims of Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking T visas for victims of trafficking

If you or someone you know were brought across the border without documents or with fake documents for the purposes of prostitution/providing sexual services, you may be eligible to apply for special visa for victims of sex trafficking/ slavery.

Each year U.S. government issues 5000 visas for persons:

(i) who have been subject to severe trafficking (the use of force, fraud, or coercion for sex trafficking and/or involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage,or slavery); (ii) who are physically present in the US, (iii)who the AG and Sec. of DHS agree have complied with a reasonable request by Federal, State, or Local law enforcement authorities to assist in the investigation or prosecution of such trafficking or in the investigation of crimes where acts of trafficking

are at least one central reason for the crime; and (iv) who would "suffer extreme hardship involving unsual and severe harm upon removal.

Don't hesitate to contact our office for the first confidential consultation about your case - if you or your friend is now in deportation jail, contact our office for immediate assistance

What is Trafficking?
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Under section 103(8) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the term "severe forms of trafficking in persons" means:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not reached 18 years of age; or
  • The recruitment, harboring transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

 

Are adult victims of trafficking eligible for benefits to the same extent as refugees?

Yes. Victims of trafficking who have been certified by the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR) under the United States Department of Health and Human

Services are eligible to benefits and services to the same extent as refugees, e.g., CalWORKs, Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Food Stamps, etc.

See CW 42-400 Residence for additional information.

Are children who have been subjected to trafficking eligible for benefits to the same extent as refugees?

Yes. Children who are under 18 years old and who have been subjected to trafficking are eligible for benefits to the same extent as refugees. Children do not need to be certified.

Are family members of victims of trafficking also eligible for benefits to the same extent as refugees?

Yes, certain family members are eligible as follows:

  • If the victim was under age 21 when the trafficking visa was filed, his/her eligible family members include spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings who were under age 18 when the trafficking visa was filed.
  • If the victim was age 21 or over when the trafficking visa was filed, his/her eligible family members include spouse and children only.

Can victims of trafficking and eligible family members be eligible for RCA when they are not eligible for CalWORKs?

Yes. Victims of trafficking and family members who are not eligible for CalWORKs may be eligible for RCA if they are within the first 8 months from the Date of Entry (DOE). Unlike CalWORKs, RCA does not require that the caretaker be related within the fifth degree or that the children be deprived due to absence, death, disability or unemployment of a parent.

Families/individuals who are not eligible for CalWORKs but may be eligible for RCA, should be referred to a district designated to process RCA benefits. The districts are: South Family, Southwest Family, Glendale, Metro North and San Gabriel Valley.

What is certification?

The Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR) may certify an adult victim of trafficking who:

  • Is willing to assist in every reasonable way in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases;

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  • Has made a bona fide application for a T-visa or is a person whose continued presence the Attorney General is ensuring to carry out a prosecution of traffickers.

Who conducts certification activities?

The Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR) conducts certification activities. DPSS eligibility staff cannot issue trafficking victim certifications or letters for children.

Do children who have been subjected need certification?
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No. Children who have been subjected to trafficking do not need to be certified by The Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR) in order to receive benefits.

At this time, ORR is issuing letters, similar to adult certification letters, stating that the child is a victim of a severe form of trafficking and is eligible for benefits to the same extent as a refugee.

What proof do adult victims of trafficking have that they have been certified?

Adult victims of trafficking who have been certified will be issued a certification letter by the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR).

Are the certification letters or letters for children valid indefinitely?

No. Once the validity of the certification letter for adults or letter for children is verified, the adult/children are eligible so long as they continue to meet the requirements of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR) and the certification letter or letter for children continues to be valid. The status of the letter(s) must be re-verified during every yearly redetermination by contacting the trafficking verification line.

What documents must adult victims of trafficking submit when they apply for benefits?

Adult victims of trafficking must submit their original certification letters. To apply for benefits, adult victims do not need to provide any immigration documents.

Human Trafficking

What if the applicant is pending certification from the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR)?

Applicants pending certification from ORR may have a T-visa bona fide determination (form I-797), or a Tvisa approval letter notice (form I-797a). It is likely that these individuals will very soon have their ORR certification. The applicant should be given an opportunity to provide the ORR certification letter before benefits are denied for him/her.

What documents must eligible family members of a victim of trafficking submit when they apply for benefits?

Eligible family members of a victim of trafficking must provide a Derivative T-visa or approval letter notice (form I-797a) with code T-2, T-3, T-4 or T-5.

Is the Derivative T-visa or I-797a approval notice valid indefinitely for eligible family members of victims of trafficking?

No. Once the validity of the Derivative T-visa or I-797a approval notice is verified, the individual is eligible so long as he/she continues to meet the requirements of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement and the documentation continues to be

valid. The status of the Derivative T-visa/I-797a must be re-verified during every yearly redetermination by contacting the trafficking verification line.

Will victims of trafficking or eligible family members have standard identity documents?

Many victims of trafficking or eligible family members do not yet have standard identity documents such as driver's licenses. If there is difficulty confirming identity in these cases, the trafficking verification line should be contacted at (866) 401-5510 for assistance.

What is the Date of Entry (DOE) for victims of trafficking and eligible family members?

The DOE for refugee benefits purposes is the date of certification found in the body of the certification letter or letter for children. For eligible family members, the DOE is the date on the I-797a approval notice or the date of entry stamped on the individual's Derivative Tvisa or I-94, Arrival/Departure Card.

Benefit eligibility begins on this date or the application date, whichever is later, provided all other eligibility requirements are met.

Will victims of trafficking or eligible family members have social security numbers for work purposes?

Some victims of trafficking or eligible family members may not yet have or may not be able to obtain social security numbers for work purposes. These individuals should be assisted in obtaining a nonworking Social Security Number (SSN) by providing them with a PA 4013, "Non-Work Social Security

Number Referral Letter" (out of drawer).

The PA 4013 does not have to be in the applicant's primary language. However, the applicant must be given verbal translation of the form and informed in his/her primary language, the purpose of the PA 4013 and that SSA will require original documents showing age, identity and lawful immigration status. In addition, the applicant must be made aware that if the non-work SSN is used to work, SSA may inform the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Does the Trafficking Victims Protection Act give victims of trafficking or eligible family members' refugee status under immigration laws?

No. The Act does not give victims of trafficking or eligible family members refugee status under immigration laws. The Act makes these individuals

eligible for benefits to the same extent as refugees.

Do victims of trafficking or eligible family members need to have a certain immigration status in order to receive benefits?

No. Victims of trafficking or eligible family members do not need to hold a certain immigration status in order to receive benefits. (Victims of trafficking need

to be certified by the Office of Refugee and Resettlement [ORR] in order to receive benefits.) Although they do not need them for benefit purposes,

victims of trafficking or eligible family members may hold a variety of immigration documents including an I-94, Arrival/Departure Card with a stamp showing parole under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, an employment authorization document, or proof of deferred action or an order of supervision.

Should the Systematic immigrant Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system be used to confirm eligibility of a trafficking victims or eligible family members for benefits?

No. The SAVE system does not contain information about victims of trafficking or eligible family members.

What process should be followed when a victim of trafficking applies for benefits?

  • Accept the certification letter or letter for children in place of immigration documentation. Victims of trafficking do not need to provide any documentation of their immigration status.
  • Accept the non-immigrant T-2, T-3, T-4 or T-5 Derivative T-visa for eligible family member as documentation of eligibility.
  • Call the trafficking verification line at (866) 401-5510 to confirm the validity of the certification, letter for children or Derivative T-visa and to notify the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR) of the benefits for which the individual has applied.

Due to time difference, calls should be made before 2:00 p.m.

  • Identify the Date Of Entry (DOE) for refugee benefit purposes. The individual's DOE is the certification date which is in the body of the certification letter or letter for children. For eligible family members, the DOE is the date on the I-797a approval notice for the individual's Derivative T-visa or the date of entry stamped on the individual's passport or I-94, Arrival Departure Record.
  • If the victim of trafficking does not have or is not able to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) for work purposes, provide a PA 4013, "Non-Work Social Security Number Referral Letter."

How are cash and food stamp benefits issued for victims of trafficking and eligible family members?
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Until LEADER programming is complete, cash and food stamp benefits for victims of trafficking and eligible family members must be issued via auxiliary issuance.

See Auxiliary Issuance - Add New Benefit for LEADER procedures.

See Auxiliary Issuance - Aid Code Table for LEADER procedures.

Note: For Medi-Cal benefits, a PA 5308 must be manually completed and a Benefit Issuance Card must be issued.

How is the Aid Payment calculated for victims of trafficking and eligible family members?

Until LEADER programming is complete, the cash aid amount for victims of trafficking and eligible family members must be calculated manually. This means

That the cash aid amount must be calculated as follows:

Example 1

The family does not have income and consists of mother and two children who are victims of trafficking.

The Aid Payment is the Maximum Aid Payment (MAP) for the AU. This Aid Payment must be issued via auxiliary.

See CW 44-315.3 - Amount of Aid MBSAC/MAP for additional information.

Example 2

The family consists of the mother and two children.

All three are victims of trafficking. The mother has earnings of $603 per month.

Step1 - Determine the Net Non-exempt Income $603 Earned Income of mother

-225 Income Disregard $378 Subtotal

-189 50% Earned Income Disregard $189 Net Non-exempt Income

Step2 - Determine Aid Payment that must be issued via auxiliary $723 Non-Exempt MAP for 3

-189 Net Non-exempt Income $534 Aid Payment

See CW 44-100 Income for additional information.

Example 3

The family consists of two U.S. citizen children and parents who are victims of trafficking. The father has earnings of $429 per month. LEADER will calculate benefits based on eligibility for the children only. Any portion of the Aid Payment that the family is entitled to receive that is not calculated/issued by LEADER must be issued via auxiliary.

Step 1 - Determine Aid Payment $862 Non-Exempt MAP for AU of 4 -102 Net Non-exempt Income ($429 minus $225, minus 50%) $760 Aid Payment

Step 2 - Determine the portion of the Aid Payment that must be issued via auxiliary $760 Total Aid Payment

-584 Aid Payment calculated/issued by LEADER $176 Portion of the Aid Payment that must be issued via auxiliary

Is there a special indicator on LEADER that must be selected for victims of trafficking and eligible family members?

Yes, the "Trafficking Victim" special indicator on LEADER must be selected for all victims of trafficking and eligible family members. The case must also be flagged. This allows for the identification/control of the cases.

See Special Indicator - Individual for LEADER procedures.

See Special Indicator - Case for LEADER procedures.

Should cases of victims of trafficking be centralized with a designated EW?

Yes. Until LEADER programming is complete, it is recommended that the District Director assign cases of victims of trafficking to a designated EW in the district.

 

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