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Several articles have reported that police and hospitals are seeing a rise in domestic violence reports across the country and here in Georgia since the start of the pandemic. Abusers may be using the pandemic as another way to exert control over the survivor such as by withholding cleaning supplies or hand sanitizer, sharing misinformation to frighten survivors, or using the pandemic as a scare tactic to keep survivors away from their kids. If you, or anyone you know, is a victim of abuse you can reach out to:

These agencies can help you find local domestic violence programs, find shelters, help with safety planning, and provide other resources for survivors.  You can also call our office to learn about local agencies and nonprofits that work with immigrant survivors of domestic violence.

Immigration Relief

Many abusers use immigration status as a form of control and manipulation. Survivors should be aware there are options to legalize their status, these include the following: 

  • Application for Employment Authorization for Abused Nonimmigrant Spouse: Certain abused nonimmigrant spouses may file for employment authorization if they were the abused spouse of a nonimmigrant who was admitted under A, E-3, G, or H nonimmigrant status whom they accompanied or followed to join. 
  • VAWA Self-Petition: Certain family members of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty may be eligible for a VAWA self-petition.  If approved, the self-petitioner may be eligible for a green card.
  • U nonimmigrant status/visa: Available to survivors of violent crimes like domestic violence who cooperate with law enforcement.  If approved, survivors will receive a four-year nonimmigrant status that can lead to a green card.
  • T nonimmigrant status/visa: Available to survivors of human trafficking (sex and labor trafficking).  Also, a four-year status that can lead to a green card.
  • VAWA Cancellation of removal: Non-citizens who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or parent (or are the parent of a child that suffered battery or extremely cruelty from a U.S. citizen parent) may qualify for this form of relief if he or she is in removal proceedings and meets other qualifications. 

Public Benefits

For immigrants, accessing public services for which they are eligible often involves complex evaluations of the intersections between federal rules regarding legal status and local and state policies regarding eligibility and benefit access. Understanding the interplay between various benefit programs as well as the overlaps between federal, state and local laws can be difficult. As a result, immigrants often find themselves eligible for public benefits but unable to access them. Ultimately the decision rests with the state agency, below is information relating to GA agencies which can help you feel economically empowered to leave a dangerous situation. 

Who is eligible?

T visa recipients and applicants, as well as abused spouses and children of U.S. citizens with pending or approved self-petitions are considered ‘qualified aliens’ eligible to receive certain public benefits. 

What benefits might I be eligible for in Georgia?

You should always consult with an attorney prior to applying to ensure that you meet the definition of ‘qualified alien,’ and that there will be no adverse impact on your eligibility for future applications. If you meet the definition of ‘qualified alien,’ you may apply for any of the benefits listed below. Please be aware that every immigrant applying for these benefits must meet the same income-based qualifications and conditions as all other applicants.  

  • Emergency Medicaid (including labor and delivery)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 

T visa recipients; Approved VAWA self-petitioners or self-petitioners with prima facie determination

  • Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)

The immigration status of the child is the determining factor in receipt of this benefit. The child must either be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualified alien. 

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) 

T visa recipients; Approved VAWA self-petitioners or self-petitioners with prima facie determination

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

T visa recipients

  • Full scope Medicaid 

T visa recipients; Approved VAWA self-petitioners or self-petitioners with prima facie determination 

  • Marketplace Health Insurance

VAWA, T and U visa recipients are eligible to purchase medical insurance in the Marketplace. T visa applicants qualify to use the Marketplace while their case remains pending. 

  • Public Housing Assistance
  • Women, Infants and Childcare (WIC- assistance for pregnant women and infants) 

Will receiving these benefits make me subject to public charge inadmissibility bars?

Congress specifically carved out exemptions to the public charges ground of inadmissibility which includes certain self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act, as well as T and U nonimmigrant visa applicants. It is important to both verify your eligibility for one of these immigrant statuses and your eligibility for this exception with an attorney. 

Antonini & Cohen Is Here to Help

We want survivors to know that during this time, we are open and we are continuing to work on cases remotely.  We are happy to refer survivors to nonprofits that provide legal services to survivors of crime pro bono or for a low fee. Call us at 404-850-9394 or contact us online

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