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Program Instruction: Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP) Services for Minor Victims of Human Trafficking

Doc No: OTIP-PI-17-01

Published: September 5, 2017

TO:

Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP) Grantees and Other Interested Parties

SUBJECT:

TVAP Services for Minor Victims of Human Trafficking

REFERENCES:

Sections 107(b)(1)(C) and (b)(1)(G) of the Trafficking Victims Protection (TVPA), as amended (22 U.S.C. §§ 7105(b)(1)(C) and (b)(1)(G)) 

PURPOSE:

This Program Instruction (PI) clarifies pre-certification and post-certification status of minor victims and potential victims of human trafficking eligible for services under the TVAP grant program.   

BACKGROUND:

Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), as amended, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with determining whether an alien child (under the age of 18) in the United States is eligible for the benefits and services made available under the TVPA to victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons.  An “Eligibility Letter” from the HHS Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) enables a child victim of human trafficking to receive federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee. 

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA of 2008), directs the Secretary of HHS, upon receipt of credible information that a child who is seeking assistance may have been subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons, to promptly determine if the child is eligible for interim assistance for up to 90 days.  During the interim eligibility period, initiated by issuance of an “Interim Assistance Letter,” OTIP will consult with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and nongovernmental organizations with expertise in victims of trafficking to determine the child’s eligibility for assistance as a victim of trafficking.  An “Interim Assistance Letter” from OTIP will make a child eligible to receive federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee for up to a 90-day period, which may be extended for an additional 30 days.   

INFORMATION:

The Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP) is a grant program intended to efficiently fund time-limited comprehensive case management services on a per capita basis to foreign victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons and potential victims of trafficking seeking HHS certification in any location within the United States.  Persons qualified for services under this grant means victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons who have received HHS certification; potential victims of a severe form of trafficking who are actively seeking HHS certification; a family member in receipt of a derivative T visa issued by DHS; and minor dependent children of foreign victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons or potential victims of trafficking. 

The TVAP Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) HHS-2015-ACF-ORR-ZV-0976 states that pre-certified participants and their dependent minor children served under this grant program are limited to a total of 12 months of services, which do not need to be received in consecutive periods, including trafficking victim services currently or previously funded by HHS.  Program enrollment for HHS-certified victims and their dependent minor children must not exceed a total of three months. 

Under the TVPA, the concept of “certification” applies to adults only.  For purposes of the TVAP program and in accordance with the TVPA and the TVAP FOA, minor victims with an Interim Assistance Letter from OTIP are considered “pre-certified” during the interim assistance period of up to 120 days and minor victims are considered “certified” after OTIP issues the final Eligibility Letter. 

INSTRUCTION:

TVAP grantees may provide case management services to assist minor victims of human trafficking with achieving HHS certification by obtaining the final Eligibility Letter from OTIP so that they may be eligible to receive long-term benefits and services to the same extent as refugees, rather than only the time-limited interim assistance services and funding available for up to 120 days with an Interim Assistance Letter. 

Further, under the FOA’s definitions, there is a distinction between a minor who is seeking an Eligibility Letter (the minor may have received an Interim Assistance Letter from OTIP) and a minor determined to be “subjected to a severe form of trafficking” who has received a final Eligibility Letter from OTIP.  Once a final determination of eligibility is made, the start date on the Eligibility Letter will be the start of the period for assisting a certified minor victim of trafficking under the TVAP grant program.

INQUIRIES: If you have questions about any of the information in this PI, please contact Sherri Harris, Program Specialist at 202-260-9319 or at Sherri.Harris@acf.hhs.gov
Last Reviewed: May 21, 2019

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