WAG 03-01-02-i: Abused Noncitizens and Their Children or Parents

PM 03-01-02-i

  1. Verify that the person is an LPR or has a petition for status pending with or approved by INS.
    1. Verify LPR status by viewing the person's:
      • Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-551); or
      • Memorandum of Creation of Record of Lawful Permanent Residence (I-181a); or
      • Arrival-Departure Record (I-94).
    2. Verify that the person has a pending or approved petition for status by viewing one of the following documents:
      • Family Immigration Visa Petition (I-130) - This document shows that a U.S. citizen or LPR filed a petition on the person's behalf.
      • Copy of Violence Against Women Act Self-petition (I-360) and/or the notarized affidavit that was submitted with it to describe the abuse - These documents show that the person self-petitioned INS for status under the Violence Against Women Act.
      • Copy of (or receipt for) Petition to Cancel Deportation or Suspend Removal (EOIR-40) - This form shows the person filed a petition under the Violence Against Women Act, requesting INS permission to stay in the U.S.
      • Employment Authorization Card (I-688B) when it has "274A.12(C)(09)" [pending adjustment of status] or "274A.12(C)(14)" [pending Violence Against Women Act petition] under "Provision of Law".
      • Notice of Action (I-797) - This document shows the status of the person's petition with INS. The person should receive an acknowledgment of filing on this form within 60 days after the petition is filed. The acknowledgment shows the petition is pending. If the petition is approved, the person receives an approval notice on this form. When the form indicates it is an approval notice for the "Spouse (or Child) of Abusive U.S.C. or L.P.R.", it also shows that INS determined there was abuse.
    3. If the person has an I-130 petition filed by their abuser, encourage the person to self-petition INS under the Violence Against Women Act. Refer the person to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) at (312) 332-7360. ICIRR provides a referral for immigration-related legal services to help the person file the self-petition. The self-petition frees the person from the abuser's control of the I-130 petition process.
    4. If the person's documents are unavailable because they were left when the person fled the abusive situation, refer the person to INS to obtain replacements. Also refer them to ICIRR for help with this process.
  2. Accept the person's statement that they are or were the spouse, widow, or child of a U.S. citizen or the spouse or child of an LPR, unless you have contradictory evidence.
  3. Obtain proof that the noncitizen was abused in the U.S. by a spouse, parent, or other family member with whom they lived. This means the relative committed one or more acts of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, including a pattern of threatening behavior which created a fear of abuse. Be sensitive to the client's needs and situation when reviewing claims and proof of abuse. Keep in mind that it is often hard to find evidence of abuse before the victim seeks help to separate from the abuser. Accept any credible evidence offered by the client.
    1. No other evidence of abuse is needed if:
      • the INS petition has been approved and indicates abuse or
      • judicial action establishes there was abuse. Judicial action includes protection orders and criminal convictions for abuse of the noncitizen.
    2. When neither of these proofs is present, use the types of proof that establish good cause for an exemption from Child Support Enforcement (see PM 24-02-04-a). This includes police reports; medical, court, and child protective service records; and statements from domestic violence service providers, psychologists, school officials, clergy, social workers, counselors, and other professionals with knowledge of the abuse.
    3. The client may submit sworn affidavits from family members, friends, or others who have personal knowledge of the abuse. In addition, the client may submit their own sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury, describing the circumstances of the abuse.
  4. Establish a connection between the abuse and the need for assistance. The following list is provided as a guide for this determination. It is not all-inclusive.

    A connection exists when the abused person and/or their family need the benefits: 

    • to become self-sufficient after separating from the abuser;
    • to escape the abuser and/or the community in which the abuser lives or to ensure their safety;
    • to replace the financial support lost due to separation from the abuser;
    • to make up for a job they lost as a result of the abuse or separation from the abuser, including a job they quit for safety reasons;
    • to obtain medical attention, counseling, or supportive services required due to the abuse;
    • to care for the children because the family lost their housing or income due to the abuse or fear of the abuser;
    • to feed the family because of the abuse or separation from the abuser;
    • to provide medical care during a pregnancy resulting from a sexual relationship with or assault by the abuser or to care for the resulting child(ren); or
    • to replace medical coverage or health care services they had while living with the abuser.
  5. Establish that the noncitizen lives apart from the abuser.
    1. If the other criteria are met but the person is unable to separate from the abuser without assistance, complete the eligibility determination process. If otherwise eligible, approve benefits based on the anticipated separate living arrangement.
    2. Be sure that an abused adult is connected with domestic violence services to help them develop a safety plan. If the person is not already receiving domestic violence services, refer them to a provider:
      • In Cook County, give them the toll-free numbers for the Chicago Domestic Violence Helpline, 1-877-863-6338 (voice) and 1-877-863-6339 (TTY).
      • Outside Cook County, give them the toll-free numbers of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 (voice) and 1-800-787-3224 (TTY), and/or refer them to a local provider.
    3. Report child abuse to the DCFS hotline at 1-800-252-2873 (voice) or 1-800-358-5117 (TTY). Within 48 hours of the telephone report, complete 3 copies of Written Confirmation of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect Report: Mandated Reporters (Form CANTS 5). See WAG 01-05-01 for complete reporting instructions.
    4. Terminate benefits if the person is still living with the abuser one month after receipt of the first month's benefits. The person may reapply when they have a separate living arrangement.
  6. Because INS policy and other federal guidelines regarding abused noncitizens are very complex, all the details are not included here. Contact the Bureau of Financial Support Policy at (217) 782-1239 or the DHS Office of the General Counsel at (217) 785-9761 if you have questions on a specific case. Always make this contact before denying assistance to a noncitizen who claims eligibility due to abuse.
  7. Enter code 44 in Item 74 of Form 552.