FACT SHEET: VICTIM ASSISTANCE (English)
Office of Refugee Resettlement
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Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the sole Federal agency authorized to certify foreign adult victims of human trafficking so that they are eligible for federal and State benefits and services to the same extent as refugees admitted to the United States. Similarly, it is the sole Federal agency authorized to determine the eligibility of foreign minor victims of trafficking for the benefits and services available to refugees. Certification and Eligibility Letters are issued by the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). U.S. citizen and Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) victims do not need to be certified or receive a letter of eligibility to be eligible for similar benefits and services.
ORR also provides funding for services to foreign victims of trafficking and potential victims in the United States. The ORR National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program funds comprehensive case management to foreign victims of trafficking and potential victims in the United States seeking HHS/ORR certification through a network of sub-awardees in locations throughout the country.
Benefits and Services Available to Victims of Human Trafficking
Certified and eligible victims of human trafficking can receive benefits and services necessary for their safety, protection, and basic wellbeing. These include:
- Housing assistance
- Food assistance
- Income assistance
- Employment assistance
- English language training
- Health care
- Mental health services
- Foster care
The TVPA created the T visa, a nonimmigrant status that allows a foreign victim of human trafficking to remain in the United States for up to four years. The law also allows certain members of a T visa holder’s family to apply for derivative T visa status.
There are several benefits to a T visa, including the following:
- Employment authorization (EAD);
- Possibility of adjusting status to Lawful Permanent Resident; and
- Ability of certain family members to obtain nonimmigrant status as T visa derivatives.
Eligible family members of trafficking victims who have received T nonimmigrant status can apply for a special T visa for derivatives. These family members include the spouse, child, parent, or an unmarried minor sibling of a victim of trafficking victim who is under 21 years of age, or the spouse or child of a victim of trafficking who is 21 years of age or older. Like certified trafficking victims, T visa derivatives are eligible for Federal and State benefits and services to the same extent as refugees. Also, derivatives can apply for EADs.
Continued Presence (CP) is a one-year form of immigration relief that Federal law enforcement officials request on behalf of a victim of a severe form of trafficking who is also a potential witness. Continued Presence allows the victim to remain in the United States during the course of an investigation or prosecution as well as obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Both CP and T nonimmigrant status are granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The following are some of the specific benefit programs for which trafficking victims with a Certification or Eligibility Letter can apply.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - A federally subsidized, State-run cash-benefit and work-opportunities program for needy families with children when the parents or other caretaker relatives are unable to provide for the family’s basic needs, and for pregnant women.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - A monthly benefit for persons who are blind or disabled, or are at least 65 years old and have limited income and resources.
- Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) - HHS/ORR program available to victims who are ineligible for TANF and SSI. RCA benefits are available for up to eight months from the date of ORR certification. RCA recipients must register for employment services and participate in employability service programs unless specifically exempted by State criteria. Minors who cannot comply with the employability service requirements cannot receive RCA.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly Food Stamps - Federal benefits to buy food that is provided to low-income individuals and families through an electronic card that is used like an ATM card at participating grocery stores.
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC) - Provides supplemental food packages for nutritionally at-risk, low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women; infants; and children up to five years of age.
- Medicaid - The federally subsidized State-run program that provides health coverage for low-income pregnant women, children, parents, adults, and those with disabilities who may have no insurance or inadequate medical insurance.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) - The public health insurance program for low-income, uninsured children 18 years of age or younger who do not qualify for Medicaid.
- Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) - HHS/ORR program available to victims who are ineligible for Medicaid or CHIP. RMA benefits are available for up to eight months from the date of ORR certification, or the date of eligibility if the victim is a minor.
- Medical Screening - Conducted by State or local health departments or their proxies for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of communicable diseases and other conditions of public health importance. This usually includes screening for tuberculosis (TB), parasites, and hepatitis B, as well as school vaccinations.
- One-Stop Career Center System - Department of Labor (DOL)-funded nationwide network of employment centers that provide information and assistance for people who are looking for jobs, or who need education and training to get a job. Services include training referrals, career counseling, job listings, and other employment services.
- Job Corps - DOL-funded centers to help eligible youth aged 16- 24 achieve employment, earn a high school diploma or GED and/or learn a vocational trade.
- Matching Grant - HHS/ORR self-sufficiency program administered by private agencies as an alternative to public assistance and designed to enable clients to become self-sufficient within four to six months from the date of certification or eligibility. Provides case management; cash assistance and housing, when needed; and employment services. Clients must complete enrollment in Matching Grant within 31 days of the date of certification or eligibility.
- Housing - Eligibility for affordable rental housing for low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, and Housing Choice Vouchers issued by low-income housing agencies to very low-income individuals and families so that they can lease privately owned rental housing.
- Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program - Provides specialized, culturally appropriate foster care or other licensed care settings according to children’s individual needs. Provides family reunification assistance when appropriate.
For more information about the many community and State-funded resources and Federal benefits and services available to trafficking victims in various immigration categories, see the online booklet Services Available To Victims of Human Trafficking: A Resource Guide for Social Service Providers.
To locate agencies that can assist foreign, U.S. citizen and LPR trafficking victims, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1.888.373.7888
National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.373.7888
FACT SHEET: VICTIM ASSISTANCE (English)