investigation and prosecution
(1) Assistance (A) Eligibility for benefits and services Notwithstanding title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 [ 8 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.], an alien who is a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, or an alien classified as a nonimmigrant under section 1101(a)(15)(T)(ii) of title 8 , shall be eligible for benefits and services under any Federal or State program or activity funded or administered by any official or agency described in subparagraph (B) to the same extent as an alien who is admitted to the United States as a refugee under section 1157 of title 8 . (B) Requirement to expand benefits and services (i) In general Subject to subparagraph (C) and, in the case of nonentitlement programs, to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor, the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation, and the heads of other Federal agencies shall expand benefits and services to victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons in the United States, and aliens classified as a nonimmigrant under section 1101(a)(15)(T)(ii) of title 8 , without regard to the immigration status of such victims. In the case of nonentitlement programs funded by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, such benefits and services may include services to assist potential victims of trafficking in achieving certification and to assist minor dependent children of victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons or potential victims of trafficking. (ii) National human trafficking hotline Beginning in fiscal year 2017, and in each fiscal year thereafter, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall make grants for a national communication system to assist victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons in communicating with service providers. The Secretary shall give priority to grant applicants that have experience in providing telephone services to victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons. The number of the national human trafficking hotline described in this clause shall be posted in a visible place in all Federal buildings. (C) Definition of victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons” means only a person— (i) who has been subjected to an act or practice described in section 7102(8) of this title as in effect on October 28, 2000 ; and (ii) (I) who has not attained 18 years of age; or (II) who is the subject of a certification under subparagraph (E). (D) Repealed. Pub. L. 108–193, § 6(a)(2) , Dec. 19, 2003 , 117 Stat. 2880 (E) Certification (i) In general Subject to clause (ii), the certification referred to in subparagraph (C) is a certification by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, after consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, that the person referred to in subparagraph (C)(ii)(II)— (I) is willing to assist in every reasonable way in the investigation and prosecution of severe forms of trafficking in persons or is unable to cooperate with such a request due to physical or psychological trauma; and (II) (aa) has made a bona fide application for a visa under section 1101(a)(15)(T) of title 8 , as added by subsection (e), that has not been denied; or (bb) is a person whose continued presence in the United States the Secretary of Homeland Security is ensuring in order to effectuate prosecution of traffickers in persons. (ii) Period of effectiveness A certification referred to in subparagraph (C), with respect to a person described in clause (i)(II)(bb), shall be effective only for so long as the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that the continued presence of such person is necessary to effectuate prosecution of traffickers in persons. (iii) Investigation and prosecution defined For the purpose of a certification under this subparagraph, the term “investigation and prosecution” includes— (I) identification of a person or persons who have committed severe forms of trafficking in persons; (II) location and apprehension of such persons; (III) testimony at proceedings against such persons; or (IV) responding to and cooperating with requests for evidence and information. (iv) Assistance to investigations In making the certification described in this subparagraph with respect to the assistance to investigation or prosecution described in clause (i)(I), the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider statements from State and local law enforcement officials that the person referred to in subparagraph (C)(ii)(II) has been willing to assist in every reasonable way with respect to the investigation and prosecution of State and local crimes such as kidnapping, rape, slavery, or other forced labor offenses, where severe forms of trafficking appear to have been involved. (F) No requirement of official certification for United States citizens and lawful permanent residents Nothing in this section may be construed to require United States citizens or lawful permanent residents who are victims of severe forms of trafficking to obtain an official certification from the Secretary of Health and Human Services in order to access any of the specialized services described in this subsection or any other Federal benefits and protections to which they are otherwise entitled. (G) Eligibility for interim assistance of children (i) Determination Upon receiving credible information that a child described in subparagraph (C)(ii)(I) who is seeking assistance under this paragraph may have been subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall promptly determine if the child is eligible for interim assistance under this paragraph. The Secretary shall have exclusive authority to make interim eligibility determinations under this clause. A determination of interim eligibility under this clause shall not affect the independent determination whether a child is a victim of a severe form of trafficking. (ii) Notification The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall notify the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security not later than 24 hours after all interim eligibility determinations have been made under clause (i). (iii) Duration Assistance under this paragraph may be provided to individuals determined to be eligible under clause (i) for a period of up to 90 days and may be extended for an additional 30 days. (iv) Long-term assistance for children (I) Eligibility determination Before the expiration of the period for interim assistance under clause (iii), the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall determine if the child referred to in clause (i) is eligible for assistance under this paragraph. (II) Consultation In making a determination under subclause (I), the Secretary shall consult with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and nongovernmental organizations with expertise on victims of severe form of trafficking. (III) Letter of eligibility If the Secretary, after receiving information the Secretary believes, taken as a whole, indicates that the child is eligible for assistance under this paragraph, the Secretary shall issue a letter of eligibility. The Secretary may not require that the child cooperate with law enforcement as a condition for receiving such letter of eligibility. (H) Notification of children for interim assistance Not later than 24 hours after a Federal, State, or local official discovers that a person who is under 18 years of age may be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, the official shall notify the Secretary of Health and Human Services to facilitate the provision of interim assistance under subparagraph (G).