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State Letter #08-04

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008: Time Limited Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services of Iraqis and Afghans Granted Special Immigrant Status under Section 101 (a)(27) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

Published: January 18, 2008
Types:
Spreadsheet, State Letter
Tags:
afghan, iraqi, siv

TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
REFUGEE HEALTH COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

FROM: Brent Orrell
Acting Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008: Time Limited Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services of Iraqis and Afghans Granted Special Immigrant Status under Section 101 (a)(27) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

Purpose of this ORR State Letter

The purpose of this ORR State Letter is to provide guidance to Refugee Service Providers on the eligibility of Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants for ORR benefits and services, their date of eligibility, and the duration of benefits and services, based on the legislation described below.

Section 525 of Title V of Division G of Public Law 110-161, “The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008” signed into law on December 26, 2007 contains the following language:

“Iraqi and Afghan aliens granted special immigrant status under section 101(a)(27) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) shall be eligible for resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits available to refugees admitted under section 207 of such Act for a period not to exceed 6 months.”

Effective December 26, 2007, Iraqi/Afghan Special Immigrants are eligible for ORR benefits and services to the same extent as are refugees, but only up to six months, at which time their ORR eligibility ceases. In no case can eligibility begin on a date prior to December 26, 2007.

Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants and Family Members

Under section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Public Law 109-163, up to 50 Iraqi and Afghan translators employed by the U.S. military have been eligible for special immigrant visas each fiscal year. Public Law 110-36, which the President signed into law on June 15, 2007, amends section 1059 by expanding the total number of beneficiaries to 500 a year for FY 2007 and FY 2008 only. In FY 2009, the number of visas available for this category is set to revert to 50 annually. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany to the U.S. or follow-to-join the Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant. The family members do not count against the previous 50 per year or current 500 per year quota for Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants. Family members following to join the principal SIV are not eligible for travel loans or travel assistance. ORR will not pay nor reimburse the travel costs of the Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant, spouse, or child.

Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant Date of Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services is Date of Entry to the U.S.

The date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services of the Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant is his or her entry date, i.e., the date he or she was admitted to the U.S. as an Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant. The date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services is not the date of application for ORR benefits and services. For Iraqis with an entry date to the U.S. prior to December 26, 2007 when the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 became law, their date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services remains their date of entry to the U.S. as an Iraqi/Afghan Special Immigrant.

To determine the date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services of Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants, ORR reviewed the law and policy for other populations eligible for ORR assistance. Section 412(e)(1) of the INA outlines a refugee assistance program that provides benefits "beginning with the first month in which such refugee has entered the United States ...” As with refugees, other populations that are eligible for ORR benefits and services also receive assistance when they first enter the country or when they first receive their status. These policies concerning entry date reinforce the statutory mandate to provide assistance so that refugees and other eligible populations may achieve self-sufficiency as quickly as possible. See INA § 412(a)(1)(A).

Date of Eligibility and Six Month Time Limit on Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services for Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrants

No ORR-funded benefits or services may be provided to the Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant after six months from their date of entry to the U.S. No additional assistance or services will be provided for the months of eligibility that occurred prior to the effective date of the law, December 26, 2007, or prior to the date of application for ORR benefits and services. Thus a n Iraqi Special Immigrant whose date of entry to the U.S. was October 1, 2007 will not be eligible for ORR benefits and services after March 31, 2008, regardless of his date of application for ORR benefits and services. Refer to 45 CFR 400.220, Counting time eligibility for refugees. Most states have opted to count time-eligibility on the basis of calendar months, as shown in this example.

An Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant who arrives in the U.S. on March 1, 2008, and first applies for ORR benefits and services on May 1, 2008, is eligible to receive benefits and services only up to August 31, 2008, six months after date of entry to the U.S. as a Special Immigrant on March 1, 2008. There is no provision to provide benefits and services to make up for the delay between date of entry to the U.S. and date of application for ORR benefits and services. The date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services is not the date of application for ORR benefits and services.

For Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants who acquire Special Immigrant Status while in the U.S., the date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services (their “entry” date) begins on the date of grant of Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant status. These will be cases of Iraqis or Afghans who were paroled into the U.S. or entered the U.S. in some other status, and then while in the U.S. made application for and were granted Iraqi or Afghan Special immigrant status. Until an Iraqi or Afghan holding parole or some other non-immigrant status becomes an Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant, he/she is not eligible for ORR benefits and services.

It is useful here to reference the following:

45 CFR Sec. 400.220 “Counting Time-Eligibility of Refugees”

“A state may calculate the time-eligibility of a refugee under this part in either of the following ways (a) On the basis of calendar months, in which case the month of arrival in the United States must count as the first month; or (b) On the basis of the actual date of arrival, in which case each month will be counted from that specific date.” {54 FR 5483, Feb. 3, 1989}

Because no ORR-funded benefits or services may be provided to the Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrants beyond six months from their date of entry to the U.S., Refugee Service providers should take this six month limitation into account in provision of benefits and services to Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants. For example, ORR-funded long term (beyond six months) social services including employability services are not available to Iraqi and Afghan Special immigrants, thus making early, focused job search assistance particularly critical.

The six-month time eligibility period may require manual tracking independent of existing automated eligibility systems programmed for eight months of RCA and RMA. Other standard ORR benefit time frames, such as social services, may require special tracking for Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants, given their six month eligibility.

Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services of Family Members of Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany to the U.S. or follow-to-join the Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant, as noted above. Any family member of an Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant who applies for ORR-funded benefits and services should produce documentation to demonstrate identity and immigration status as an Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant.

Documentation of Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services of Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants

Providers will be required to determine eligibility in accordance with ORR regulations. This eligibility determination includes confirmation of the individual’s status and date of entry through appropriate documentation.

The following documents will confirm both status and date of entry for Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants:

  • Principal Applicant Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant - Iraqi or Afghan passport with an immigrant visa stamp noting that the individual has been admitted under IV (Immigrant Visa) Category SI1 and DHS stamp or notation on passport or I-94 showing date of entry
  • Spouse of Principal Applicant Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant - Iraqi or Afghan passport with an immigrant visa stamp noting that the individual has been admitted under IV (Immigrant Visa) Category SI2 and DHS stamp or notation on passport or I-94 showing date of entry
  • Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant - Iraqi or Afghan passport with an immigrant visa stamp noting that the individual has been admitted under IV (Immigrant Visa) Category SI3 and DHS stamp or notation on passport or I-94 showing date of entry
  • Principal Applicant Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant / Principal Adjusting Status in the U.S. - DHS Form I-551 (“green card”) showing Iraqi or Afghan nationality (or Iraqi or Afghan passport), with an IV (immigrant visa) code of SI6
  • Spouse of Principal Applicant Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant in SI6 Category - DHS Form I-551 (“green card”) showing Iraqi or Afghan nationality (or Iraqi or Afghan passport), with an IV (immigrant visa) code of SI7
  • Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant in SI6 Category - DHS Form I-551 (“green card”) showing Iraqi or Afghan Nationality (or Iraqi or Afghan passport), with an IV (“immigrant visa”) code of SI9

Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants Eligibility for Federal Public Benefits Other Than ORR Benefits and Services

Under the language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, in addition to resettlement assistance, Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants are eligible for “ entitlement programs, and other benefits available to refugees admitted under section 207 of such Act for a period not to exceed 6 months.” These programs and benefits would appear to include federal public benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Food Stamps. In order to receive the benefits, they would also need to meet the income, resource, and other eligibility requirements. These benefit programs are not administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and questions about them should be directed to the appropriate office or agency.

Any legislation apart from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 that affords ORR eligibility to Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants will be treated in a separate ORR State Letter.

This policy change is effective immediately.

If you have questions regarding any of the information contained in this State Letter, please contact Thomas Pabst at (202) 401-5398 or by email at thomas.pabst@acf.hhs.gov.