Cash and Food Assistance for Non-Citizen Victims of Trafficking, Torture, or Other Serious Crimes

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02/21/18

Policy Memo

Summary:

  • Effective 01/01/18, foreign-born victims of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes (VTTC) and their derivative family members may be eligible for state-funded cash and food assistance.  To qualify for cash and/or food assistance under this program, persons cannot be otherwise eligible for cash and/or food assistance.
  • Cash and food assistance, under the VTTC program, may be provided for 12 months or for a longer period of time if certain criteria are met.
  • A non-citizen foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes and his or her derivative family members are eligible for cash and/or food assistance if he or she has filed, or is preparing to file, an application for: T Non-immigrant status with the appropriate federal agency; U Non-immigrant status with the appropriate federal agency; or asylum status under Section 1158 of Title 8 of the United States Code and is otherwise eligible for cash assistance or SNAP benefits, as applicable.
  • "Derivative Family Member" means a person who is the spouse, child, parent or sibling under age 18 of the principal victim who is eligible, or potentially eligible, for one of the above statuses.  A spouse must have been married to the principal victim before the principal victim entered the United States. 
  • A foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes may be on a VTTC case by him or herself or with a member of his or her family. There can only be one adult on a VTTC cash EDG.  A child may be on a child-only case without his or her parent, if he or she is a foreign born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes. The child is not required to have a parent on the case.  The SNAP EDG can include the victim and his or her derivative family members.
  • Cash and/or food assistance benefits for these foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes start with the date of application.
  • Certain non-financial factors of eligibility do not apply to VTTC individuals and their derivative family members.
  • If the principal victim no longer meets the VTTC eligibility criteria, the principal victim and his or her derivative family members must be evaluated for cash and food assistance under other programs.
  • The VTTC program ends effective 07/01/19.
  • Persons applying for, or receiving, VTTC cash and/or food assistance are entitled to appeal rights as described in PM 01-07-00
  • Until IES is updated to process applications for this program:
    • register the application in IES, and
    • for paper applications, scan and upload the application to IES, and
    • send an email to DHS.Central238@illinois.gov.  Specify VTTC in the subject line of the email and identify the FCRC.  The email should include the application number and be identified as an application for assistance under the VTTC program.  Central Office will process the application. 
  1. Eligible Persons
  2. Derivative Family Members
    1. Individuals with T Non-immigrant Status
    2. Individuals with U Non-immigrant Status
    3. Asylum
  3. Verifying Eligibility
  4. Non-financial Factors of Eligibility
    1. Citizenship/INS Status
    2. Residence
    3. Age and Student Status
    4. Relative Status
    5. Ineligible Due to Other Benefits
    6. Client Cooperation
  5. Other Non-financial Factors
    1. Work Requirements
    2. Persons Exempt from Work Registration
    3. Participation requirements
    4. Appropriate Work or Training Criteria
    5. Sanctions
    6. Who to Include in the Case
  6. Eligibility and Benefit Amount
  7. Review of eligibility
  8. Maximum Eligibility Period
  9. Self Supportive Services
  10. Sunset of the VTTC Program
  11. System Changes in IES

Eligible Persons

A non-citizen foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes and his or her family members are eligible for cash and food assistance if they have applied, or are preparing to file, an application for:

  • T Non-immigrant status with the appropriate federal agency;
  • U Non-immigrant status with the appropriate federal agency; or
  • asylum status under Section 1158 of Title 8 of the United States Code.

Derivative Family Members

"Derivative Family Member" means a person who is the spouse, child, parent or sibling under age 18 of the principal victim who is eligible, or potentially eligible, for one of the above statuses.  A spouse must have been married to the principal victim before the principal victim entered the United States.

Individuals with T Non-immigrant Status

An individual who meets the status for a "T" VISA is a non-immigrant person who is, or has been, a victim of a severe form of trafficking, which is defined as;

  • sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 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.

Individuals with U Non-immigrant Status

An individual who meets the status for a "U" VISA is a non-immigrant who has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity. The individual possesses information concerning criminal activity and has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful, to a federal, State, or local law enforcement official and prosecutors.

Examples of criminal activity can be, but are not limited to;

  • abduction
  • held hostage
  • torture
  • kidnapping
  • obstruction of justice
  • trafficking
  • felonious assault
  • slave trade
  • manslaughter
  • debt servitude
  • rape
  • false imprisonment
  • blackmail
  • prostitution
  • incest
  • unlawful criminal restraint
  • extortion
  • abusive sexual contact
  • witness tampering
  • sexual exploitation
  • involuntary servitude
  • female genital mutilation
  • murder
  • other related crimes

Asylum

A non-immigrant may be granted asylum if he or she is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of origin and has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Verifying Eligibility

TANF and State Food Assistance policy on verifying eligibility (see PM 02-07-02 and PM 02-07-03) applies to VTTC cases with the following exceptions:

  • Social Security Number;
  • relative status - verify relative status if it exists, but living with a relative is not an eligibility factor; and
  • cooperation with Child Support Enforcement.

Every adult in a VTTC cash must sign the application.

Non-financial Factors of Eligibility

Citizenship/INS Status

To qualify for VTTC, at least one individual in the household has filed, or is preparing to file, for a:

  • Non-immigrant (T) VISA;
  • Non-immigrant (U) VISA; or
  • a formal application for asylum.

Residence

  • TANF residence policy (see PM 03-02-01) applies to a VTTC case.
  • SNAP residence policy (see PM 03-02-00) applies to the State Food Assistance case.

Age and Student Status

Full-time college students age 18 or over do not qualify for VTTC Cash benefits. Persons attending job skills training or English language classes that are expected to last less than one year are not full-time college students.

Relative Status

Accept the VTTC individual's statement identifying family members who reside with them for TANF.

Ineligible Due to Other Benefits

A person who qualifies for TANF, AABD cash or SSI benefits is ineligible for VTTC cash. A VTTC applicant or client and/or his or her family members who are potentially eligible for one of these programs and who fails to apply for them, are ineligible for VTTC cash benefits.

Client Cooperation

Policy on client cooperation (see PM 01-02-00) applies to VTTC cases for Cash and for the State Food Assistance Program (see PM 01-03-00) .

Other Non-financial Factors

Work eligible individuals receiving VTTC Cash benefits must cooperate with the TANF activity requirement (see PM 3-13-00). These factors do not pertain to the State Food Assistance Program.

The following non-financial factors do not apply to VTTC cases:

Work Requirements

As a condition of eligibility for a foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes to receive his or her cash benefits, all non-exempt adults under age 60 must register for employment with:

  • the Refugee Job Placement Agency, if one is in the area, or
  • with Job Service if there is no Refugee Job Placement Agency.

NOTE: The only exceptions to this requirement are for a representative payee (RPY) of the case and a person who does not have INS permission to work.

Persons Exempt from Work Registration

A person who is a foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes shall be exempted from any work requirements if physical or psychological trauma related to or arising from the trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes impedes the client's ability to comply.

A person is exempt from work registration if the person:

  • is a child in the case;
  • is age 60 or over;
  • has a medical condition that prevents him or her from working;
  • is needed in the home to care for another person in the home due to the person's medical condition;
  • provides care for a child under age one who lives in the same home; or
  • is employed full-time (i.e., 30 or more hours per week).
  • A foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or an other serious crimes whose inability to speak English does not exempt them from work registration requirements.

If neither parent or adult relative can claim an exemption, both persons are non-exempt.

Participation requirements

After registration, a non-exempt person must:

  • continue employment;
  • respond to appropriate job referrals;
  • accept any offer of appropriate employment;
  • attend appropriate English language training if working less than 100 hours per month; or
  • attend appropriate job skills training if working less than 100 hours per month.

Appropriate Work or Training Criteria

Appropriate work or training is defined by DHS, the VOLAG, or the job placement agency and must meet the following criteria:

  • Work may be temporary, permanent, full-time, part-time, or seasonal.
  • The wage offered must meet or exceed the federal and State minimum wage (see WAG 25-06-08). If neither law applies, the wage must be as much as the wage paid for similar work but in no case can it be less than three-fourths of the State minimum wage.
  • The daily and weekly work hours cannot exceed those customary to the type of work.
  • The person must be physically and mentally able to perform the job or training assignment on a regular basis.
  • The total daily commuting time to and from the work or training site must not normally exceed 2 hours. This does not include time needed to take a child to and from child care.
  • The work or training site the person is assigned to must not be in violation of federal, State, and local health and safety standards.

The Refugee Job Placement Agency and the VOLAG have primary responsibility for deciding when a client has quit or failed or refused to apply for an appropriate job, or failed or refused to attend job skills or English language training.

When the Family Community Resource Center learns that a client has quit a job, failed or refused to apply for a job, failed or refused to accept a job offer or to attend training, the Family Community Resource Center begins the reconciliation process (see PM 03-13-04). Decide if the job or training is appropriate. If the Family Community Resource Center decides that the job or training is appropriate, sanction the client if reconciliation is not successful.

Sanctions

When reconciliation is not successful, sanction a non-exempt client who failed to cooperate with the Refugee Job Placement Agency or Job Service without good cause. Examples of good cause are:

  • death in the family;
  • illness or incapacity;
  • required court appearance or temporary incarceration;
  • family crisis;
  • breakdown in child care arrangements;
  • sudden and unexpected emergency;
  • unavailability of suitable child care;
  • breakdown in transportation arrangements and no other transportation was available;
  • inclement weather; or
  • the referral did not meet appropriate work or training criteria.

To sanction a client, remove his or her needs when figuring the family's benefit amount. Use the sanctioned person's income and assets when figuring the family's benefits. A sanctioned person remains eligible for medical assistance.

The sanction period starts the first day of the fiscal month that the client's needs are removed. The person's first sanction lasts until he or she registers for work and requests restored benefits. The 2nd sanction lasts at least 3 months, and the 3rd sanction lasts through the client's remaining months of VTTC eligibility.

For the first sanction, restore cash benefits as soon as the client requests restored benefits and registers with the Refugee Job Placement Agency or Job Service. For the 2nd sanction, restore cash benefits when the 3-month sanction period is over and the client requests restored benefits and registers with the Refugee Job Placement Agency or Job Service.

The client can immediately register with the Refugee Job Placement Agency or with Job Service for a first sanction. For a 2nd sanction, the client must register within the 30 days before the end of the sanction.

When a client appeals a sanction, follow normal appeal policy (see PM 01-07-00).

Who to Include in the Case

Policy on who to include in a case in PM 04-01-00 , does not apply to cases who have a foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or an other serious crime on the case.

A foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes may be on the case by him or herself or with a member of his or her family. There can only be one adult on a VTTC cash EDG.  A child may be on a child-only case without his or her parent, if he or she is a foreign born victim of trafficking, torture, or an other serious crimes. The child is not required to have a parent on the case.  The SNAP EDG can include the victim and his or her derivative family members.

Eligibility and Benefit Amount

TANF income policy (see PM 08-01-00) applies to a foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes.

Cash and/or food assistance benefits for foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes start with the date of application.

TANF budgeting policy applies to this type of Cash case. Allow the 3/4 earned income disregard when budgeting earned income for active cases (see PM 10-02-00 for TANF earned income budgeting). Change the case to Earned Income REDE Status; see PM 19-07-00.

SNAP income policy (see PM 08-04-00) applies to the State Assistance Food Program for a foreign-born victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes.

SNAP budgeting policy applies for State Food Assistance Program (see PM 13-02-00).

Review of eligibility

VTTC cases will be reviewed after a year of eligibility has occurred.

Maximum Eligibility Period

A non-citizen who is a victim of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes will continue to receive benefits unless the client :

  • has been denied on his or her application for VISA or asylum;
  • has not filed a formal application for status pursuant to Sections 1101 (a) (15) T, 1101 (a) (15) U, or 1158 of Title 8 of the United States Code within one year after the date of the client's application for cash assistance and/or State Food Assistance.

The Department may extend the client's eligibility beyond one year if it has been determined that during the year of initial eligibility the client :

  • experienced a health crisis;
  • has been unable, after reasonable attempts, to obtain necessary information from a third party;
  • has other extenuating circumstances that prevented the client from completing his or her application for status.

Self Supportive Services

Clients who are foreign-born victims of trafficking, torture, or other serious crimes do not qualify for self-support services from DHS.

Sunset of the VTTC Program

The VTTC Program ends on 07/01/2019.  You will be provided a list of cases for your office and instructions on how to end eligibility. 

System Changes in IES

IES is not currently programed to process VTTC applications.Until IES is updated to process applications for this program,

  • register the application in IES, and
  • for paper applications, scan, upload and register the application in IES, and
  • send an email to DHS.Central238@illinois.gov.   Specify VTTC in the subject line of the email and identify the FCRC.  The email should include the application number and be identified as an application for assistance under the VTTC program. Central Office will process the application.