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Legal Information: Federal

Immigration

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Updated: 
September 18, 2019

What specific federally-funded benefits are available to me?

Once you have obtained certification related to continued presence or approved T visa status, or a letter of eligibility if you are under 18 you may receive benefits from any federal program or federally-funded state program. Possible benefits you may be eligible for appear below. To apply for any of these benefits, be sure to bring your certification or letter of eligibility, with you. (The service provider will verify your certification or eligibility letter by calling the Trafficking Victim Verification line at (866) 401-5510.)

Before seeking any of these federal benefits, however, you should make sure to first consult with your attorney or advocate so that they can check that the agency you approach won’t turn you away or call ICE to detain you.

1. Financial Help
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF provides assistance and work opportunities to needy families with children under 18 years of age. State agencies implement the program. Apply through your local social services agency.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as “SNAP” or food stamps) – You use food stamps like cash to pay for food at most grocery stores. Apply through your local Social Security office. Here you can find your closest Social Security office.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)WIC provides nutrition assistance and education to pregnant women and families with children under five years of age. You can use WIC checks to purchase certain types of food and infant formula. You are automatically eligible for WIC if you are eligible for TANF, food stamps, or Medicaid.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) SSI provides benefits for people who are blind, have severe disabilities, or are at least 65 years old and have limited income and resources. Apply through your local Social Security office. Here you can find your closest Social Security office.

Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance (RCA & RMA) – If you are ineligible for TANF, SSI, and Medicaid, you may be eligible for RCA and RMA, which provide cash and medical assistance for the first eight months following certification or eligibility.

Matching Grant Program – Volunteer Agencies (called VOLAGs) administer the Matching Grant Program as an alternative to refugee cash assistance. It provides employment services, living assistance (including food or food subsidies, housing assistance, and transportation), and cash allowance.

2. Health Care
Torture Treatment Program HHS-funded social, legal, health, and psychological services for victims of torture. Here you can find survivor resources.

State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)SCHIP (also called CHIP) is a public health insurance program available to low-income, uninsured children under 18 years of age who do not qualify for Medicaid. Because state agencies administer the program, you will need to contact your state’s local social services agency for more information. Note: There is a five-year waiting period after receiving T visa status before trafficking victims can access SCHIP.1

Medicaid – Medicaid is a government-funded health insurance program for people with low income and limited resources. Because state agencies administer the program, you will need to contact your state’s local social services agency for more information. Note: There is a five-year waiting period after receiving T visa status before trafficking victims can access Medicaid.1

3. Social Services
Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program – This program provides resettlement and foster care services for unaccompanied minor refugees and trafficking victims. For more information, click here.

4. Employment
One-Stop Career Center System
- If you are looking for employment, Career One-Stop may be able to assist you. Local centers provide information and assistance for finding employment and obtaining education and training. To locate a One-Stop career service center near you, click here.

Job Corps – The Department of Labor oversees this free job training and education program for youths between the ages of 16 and 24. Here you can learn more about Job Corps.

5. Housing
Certified victims of human trafficking may be eligible for public housing assistance. Your local social services agency may be able to assist you in locating the proper public housing authority.

6. Other
State-Specific Programs
– States may have additional programs for certified victims of human trafficking. Your local social services agency may be able to assist you in figuring out what may be available to you.

Note: The above information is adapted from the HHS’s Administration for Children and Families Victim Assistance Fact Sheet. The fact sheet is also available in the following languages:

You can find additional information in HHS’s Resource Guide. In addition, the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project created a “map” where you can look up each type of benefit to see if an immigrant is eligible for that particular benefit in a particular state. The map includes cash assistance (TANF), child care, housing, driver’s licenses, and more. You can access this map feature on the NIWAP website. Also, they offer this information about all of the benefits that an immigrant can qualify for in every state displayed in a state-by-state list.

1 U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services