Field Ops Memo 2005-22: Battered Immigrant Eligibility for Food Stamps and TANF benefits


This is very comprehensive guidance designed to advise DTA workers on how to handle applications from battered non-citizens and their children. DTA drafted this guidance with the extensive input from MLRI and Greater Boston Legal Services. Also attached is an MLRI summary of important points regarding battered noncitizen eligibility.

Many battered immigrants who do not have a green card but are in the process of securing status may still be eligible for benefits for themselves and/or their children.  Many immigrants with green cards may also be eligible without a five year wait. Important things to remember include:

*  A battered immigrant who has either a pending or approved self-petition under the Violence Against Women's Act (VAWA) provisions may be eligible for benefits.  She does not need a final determination on the VAWA petition.

*  A battered immigrant who has a pending or approved I-130 family vispetition filed by a US citizen or LPR spouse, or a parent of the immigrant, may also be eligible.  She does not need a final determination or green card, nor does she need to have filed a VAWA petition.

*  There is NO five year wait for battered immigrants seeking TAFDC cash benefits. There is NO five year wait for any children of battered immigrants for TAFDC or SNAP. Children of battered immigrants are "derivative beneficiaries" of battered immigrants and are eligible if their parents are eligible, even if their names do not appear on the documentation.

*  Immigration documents often have different codes on them which are hard to figure out. This guidance is designed to help DTA staff identify, but when in doubt or if the documents are unclear, DTA staff will contact the Non-citizen liaison for the local office.

*  Many battered immigrants may have fled their abusers without documents (or he may have refused to share them with her).  DTA will accept a self-declaration from the battered immigrant of her status pending receipt of verification. 

Immigrants should be referred to Legal Services and other agencies who can provide assistance securing proof of status. Unfortunately, battered immigrants who are undocumented, or who have legal status through a pending asylum petition, TPS or other route, may still be ineligible for benefits despite desperate need.  Until state funds are made available for these individuals, they may not be eligible.  However, DTA Domestic Violence specialists will provide assistance to them, and any US citizen children may be independently eligible.  Please contact MLRI if you have any questions about this guidance.

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