August 1, 2008
By DINAH WILEY
Former Public Benefits Policy Attorney
The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), and Legal Momentum are pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has determined correctly that "qualified" battered immigrant students are eligible for federal financial aid under the same rules that apply to citizens and other eligible immigrants. DOE is developing procedures for providing aid to these domestic violence survivors while protecting their confidentiality.
This victory is due not only to advocacy by organizations serving immigrant domestic violence survivors, but also to the persistence of a few incredibly dedicated students who overcame enormous obstacles in order to pursue their education. These students spent years working to ensure that they and others in their situation will have the means to survive while improving their ability to contribute to the country's future.
Immigrant domestic violence survivors and their children with (1) an approved I-130 relative petition filed by a spouse or a parent, (2) an I-360 self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that is either approved or sets forth a prima facie case, or (3) an approved application for suspension of deportation or withholding of removal under VAWA should now be able to obtain federal financial aid, assuming that they meet the other eligibility criteria. During this period, while DOE revises its materials, it has set up a process for working with financial aid officers to assist these students.
If you are working with battered immigrant students who may be eligible for financial aid and who wish to apply during the next few months, the staff at Legal Momentum has agreed to work with you to move these cases. You can contact Lacy Carra or Soraya Fata at Legal Momentum (202-326-0040). If you have questions about this notice, you can also write to NILC's Tanya Broder or Dinah Wiley, or to LAFLA's Sheila Neville.