SNAP policy for non-citizens is as follows:
The following non-citizens do not have to be “qualified” as described in Section 522.32, Qualified Non-Citizens and may get SNAP benefits immediately as long as they meet other eligibility conditions:
7 CFR § 273.4(a)
Certain Hmong or Highland Laotian tribe members who helped the United States military by taking part in a military or rescue operation during the Vietnam War era (beginning August 5, 1964 and ending May 7, 1975), their spouses, unmarried dependent children, and unremarried surviving spouses.
NOTE: If the applicant was born after May 7, 1975, neither the applicant nor his or her spouse qualifies as a tribal member.
American Indians born in Canada to whom Section 289 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) applies.
Members of Indian tribes born outside of the U.S. under Section 4(e) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
Determining the eligibility of non-citizens not listed in Section 522.31 is a two-step process. First, the non-citizen must be considered a qualified non-citizen under number 1 below. Secondly, the qualified non-citizen must meet corresponding requirements listed under number 2 or 3 to qualify for SNAP benefits.
7 CFR § 273.4(a)(6)(i)
1. The following are qualified non-citizens:
Individuals legally admitted for permanent residence (LPR) under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA);
Refugees admitted to the United States under INA Section 207;
People granted asylum under INA Section 208;
Cuban/Haitian entrants under Section 501(e) of the 1980 Refugee Education Assistance Act (REAA) of 1980.
Individuals whose deportation is withheld under Section 243(h) of the INA in effect before April 1, 1997, or whose removal is withheld under INA Section 241(b)(3)
Individuals granted conditional entry under INA Section 203(a)(7) in effect before April 1, 1980.
Individuals paroled into the U.S. under INA Section 212(d)(5) for at least one year.
NOTE: Adding periods of admission for less than one year to total a year is not permitted.
Individuals battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the U.S. by a spouse or a parent or by a member of the spouse or parent’s family living in the same household as the noncitizen at the time of the abuse. Qualified status also extends to a non-citizen whose child has been abused or a non-citizen child whose parent has been abused. See Section 522.4, Verification.
To be "qualified" under the "battered or subjected to extreme cruelty" criterion, the non-citizen must meet the following rules:
The USCIS or Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) granted a petition or application filed for or on behalf of the non-citizen, the non-citizen’s child or the non-citizen child’s parent under the INA.
The non-citizen, the non-citizen’s child or the non-citizen child’s parent were abused in the U.S.
There is a substantial connection between the abuse and the need for SNAP benefits
The battered non-citizen, child or parent no longer lives with the abuser
Iraqi and Afghani immigrants granted special immigrant visas (SIVs) under INA §101(a)(27) who worked on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010, P.L. 111-118, enacted on December 19, 2009 provides that SIVs are eligible for benefits to the same extent as refugees.
Victims subjected to a severe form of trafficking under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386) and the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA-H.R 7311). These individuals, who are eligible for benefits to the same extent as refugees, are:
Adults certified by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and issued T visas. See Section 522.4, Verification.
Under 18 years of age. Children do not have to be certified but will have a letter from DHHS stating that they are victims of trafficking.
The spouse, child, parent or unmarried minor sibling of a victim under 21 years of age who has received a derivative T visa (T-2, T-3, T-4 or T-5).
The spouse, child, parent or unmarried minor sibling of a victim 21 years of age or older who has received a derivative T visa (T-2, T-3, T-4 or T-5).
2. The following qualified non-citizens may get SNAP benefits with no waiting period if otherwise eligible:
Refugee admitted under INA Section 207.
Asylee under INA Section 208.
Deportation withheld under INA Section 243(h) in effect before April 1, 1997, or whose removal is withheld under INA Section 241(b)(3).
Cuban/Haitian admitted under Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Act (REAA) of 1980.
Amerasian admitted under Section 584 of Public Law 100-202 as amended by Public Law 100-461.
Victims of severe trafficking
A refugee may eventually qualify for permanent resident status. The USCIS provides a Resident Alien Identification Card (I-551) to a noncitizen granted permanent resident status. The I-551 includes a class code identifying the individual as a refugee.
The following class codes show eligibility for Refugee Assistance benefits as described in Supplemental Handbook, Chapter 730:
RE6, RE7, RE8—Refugees admitted under Section 207
AS6, AS7, AS8—People granted political asylum under Section 208
AM6, AM7, AM8—People admitted under Amerasian legislation
CH6—Cuban/Haitian entrants adjusting under Section 202 of the Immigration Reform and Control Act
In addition, the following codes are common for Hmong and Highland Laotian tribal members who entered the United States as refugees: RE1, RE2, RE3, RE6, RE7, RE8, R86, IC6, and IC7.
SI1,SQ1,SI2, SQ2, SI3, SQ3 or an I-551 with SI6, SQ6, SI7, SQ7, SI9, SQ9—Iraqi and Afghani SIVs admitted under Section 101(a)(27) of the INA.
Qualified non-citizens in this category who later adjust to LPR status may continue to receive SNAP benefits if otherwise eligible.
3. The following qualified non-citizens above may receive SNAP benefits with no waiting period if they meet one of the following criteria and are otherwise eligible:
7 CFR § 273.4(a)(6)(ii)
An LPR age 18 or older who has earned or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (i.e., 10 years). Consider work quarters as determined under Title II of the Social Security Act as well as quarters not covered under Title II.
Has a military connection, including:
Veteran with honorable discharge not related to noncitizen status. A discharge "under honorable conditions" does not meet this requirement.
On active duty with the U.S. armed forces (excluding National Guard) other than for training
A spouse or unmarried dependent child or children of a veteran or current member of the U.S. armed forces.
Under age 18 and legally in the United States. There is no sponsor deeming requirement for qualified non-citizen children under age 18. When the non-citizen reaches age 18, review his/her status. The non-citizen child is then subject to deeming requirements.
LPRs who meet the SNAP definition of disabled or blind, and receive blindness or disability benefits. Disability benefits include SSI, Social Security disability, state disability or retirement pension, railroad retirement disability, veteran’s disability, disability-based Medicaid, if the disability determination uses criteria as stringent as those used by federal SSI. An individual also meets the definition of disability if:
A licensed physician, psychologist, physician's assistant or certified registered nurse practitioner indicates on Form PA 1663 (Employability Assessment Form) that the individual is permanently or temporarily disabled fora period of 12 months or more. The medical provider must check either block 1 or 2 in Section II of the form.
A licensed physician, psychologist, physician's assistant or certified registered nurse practitioner indicates of Form PA 635 (Medical Assessment Form) that the individual is permanently disabled for a period of 12 months or more. The medical provider must check block 4 in section II of the form.
A person who on August 22, 1996 was legally living in the U.S. and was born on or before August 22, 1931.
7 CFR § 273.4(a)(6)
NOTE: Qualified non-citizens in this category who later adjust to LPR status may continue to receive SNAP benefits if otherwise eligible.
4. The following qualified non-citizens must be in a qualified status for five years or more from date of entry before getting SNAP benefits:
An LPR age 18 or older.
People paroled into the U.S. under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA for a period of at least one year.
People battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the U.S. by a spouse or a parent or by a member of the spouse or parent’s family living in the same household as the non-citizen at the time of the abuse.
Parent or child of a battered person with a petition pending under Sections 204(a)(1)(A) or (B) or 244(a)(3) of the INA.
Individuals granted conditional entry under Section 203(a)(7)of the INA in effect prior to April 1, 1980.
Five years in qualified status may be consecutive or nonconsecutive.
Temporary absences from the U.S. of less than six months with no intent to give up living in the U.S. do not end or interrupt the individual's five-year-period.
If the individual is absent for six months or more, the CAO must assume that his or her living in the U.S. was interrupted unless the individual gives evidence of his or her intent to live in the U.S. again.
When determining whether the individual with an interrupted period of living in the U.S. has been in the U.S. for five years, the CAO must consider all months the individual lived in the U.S., including months before the interruption.
NOTE: Review ABAWD requirements. See Chapter 575, Section 575.28.
Sponsors sign an affidavit of support (I-864) and Contract between Sponsor and Household Member (I-864A) or similar agreement such as an I-134 Affidavit of Support on behalf of the noncitizen as a condition for the non-citizen to enter the U.S. The income and resources of the sponsor and the sponsor's spouse must be considered available for the support of the non-citizen for as long as the affidavit of support is binding. Form I-864 is a legally enforceable document. Form I-134 is not legally binding.
7 CFR § 273.4(c)
The income of sponsors who signed an affidavit of support before December 19, 1997, is deemed available to the non-citizen for three years. These sponsors do not have to sign a new affidavit..
Important: The non-citizen must be a qualified non-citizen to consider the income and resources of the sponsor and sponsors spouse as available to the non-citizens household.
The income of sponsors who signed affidavits of support on or after December 19, 1997 is deemed available to a non-citizen until:
the non-citizen has 40 qualifying quarters of coverage,
the non-citizen becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen
the non-citizen loses LPR status and permanently leaves the U.S., or
the sponsor dies, whichever comes first.
Sponsor deeming rules do not apply to a non-citizen who is:
7 CFR § 273.4(c)(3)
Not a qualified non-citizen
Under age 18 (This rule also applies to the non-citizen's citizen child who is under age 18).
A member of his or her sponsor’s SNAP household.
Sponsored by an organization or a group rather than an individual
Not required to have a sponsor under the INA (a refugee, parolee, asylee, or a Cuban or Haitian entrant).
Indigent. The CAO must determine that the non-citizen is unable to get food and shelter, considering the non-citizens income plus any cash, food, housing, or assistance provided by others, including the sponsor. Before determining whether the non-citizen is indigent, the CAO must:
Explain the purpose of the determination and give the individual the opportunity to refuse the determination. The CAO must inform the individual of the consequences of refusal---that the sponsor's income and resources will be deemed to the non-citizen.
A non-citizen may self-declare that he or she is indigent. A determination of indigence remains in effect for 12 months from the date of eligibility regardless of information received from a SAVE query on the sponsor within the certification period. Indigence determinations are renewable for additional 12-month periods.
Notify USCIS that a non-citizen is exempt from deeming based on indigence. The notification must include the names of the sponsors and the sponsored non-citizen. The non-citizen may choose to withdraw his or her application for SNAP if her or she does not want the CAO to notify USCIS.
The CAO must send notification to the following:
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Office of Policy and Strategy
20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20529-0001
NOTE: The phrase “is unable to get food and shelter" means :
The eligible sponsored noncitizen’s household’s own income
Cash contributions received from the sponsor and others
The value of in-kind assistance the sponsor and others provide
No more than 130% of the federal poverty income guidelines for the household’s size
A battered spouse, parent of a battered child, or child of a battered parent, for 12 months after the CAO determines that the the need for benefits is clearly connected to the battery. The battered individual must not live with the batterer.
NOTE: After 12 months, the CAO must not deem the batterer’s income and resources if:
The battery is recognized by a court or the USCIS.
The battery is substantially connected to the need for benefits.
The non-citizen does not live with the batterer.
A sponsored noncitizen must:
7 CFR § 273.4(c)(4)
Get the sponsor to provide proof of the sponsor's income and resources and those of the sponsor's spouse.
Identify other noncitizens whom the sponsor has agreed to support.
Report changes in the sponsor’s income and resources.
Report a change in sponsorship.
At application, the CAO must do the following:
7 CFR § 273.2(c)
Ensure the non-citizen is a qualified non-citizen.
7 CFR § 273.4(c)
Get the name, address, and phone number of the sponsor.
7 CFR § 273.2(c)
Determine the number of dependents who are claimed or could be claimed for federal income tax purposes by the sponsor or the sponsor’s spouse.
Get sponsor's income and resource information.
Identify other non-citizens for whom the sponsor has signed a support agreement.
Determine the USCIS provision under which the non-citizen was admitted.
Determine the non-citizen's entry date or admission as a legal permanent resident .
Get the noncitizen's date of birth, place of birth, and registration number.
The CAO must:
7 CFR § 273.2(f)(1)
Verify other information only if questionable.
Help the non-citizen get the required information. If the non-citizen refuses to cooperate, ask other adult household members to provide or verify the required information.
Treat the sponsored non-citizen as an ineligible non-citizen until he or she provides all required information. (See Chapter 555 Deeming Income and Resources.)
7 CFR § 273.4(c)(5)
Handle the information received as a reported change and complete detailed case comments.
If the sponsor lives with his or her spouse, the CAO must count the spouse's income and resources, even if they were married after the sponsor signed the sponsorship agreement.
7 CFR § 273.4(c)(2)
Figure out the total countable resources of the sponsor and spouse as follows:
1. Add the resources of the sponsor and his or her spouse.
2. Deduct $1,500.
3. Assume the amount left is available to the noncitizen.
Figure out the income deemed to the noncitizen's household as follows:
1. Deduct the 20% earned income deduction from the combined countable earnings of the sponsor and spouse.
2. Combine the amount left with any countable unearned income of the sponsor and spouse.
NOTE: The sponsor is entitled to standard SNAP earned and unearned income exclusions. See 550.5, Income Excluded in Determining Eligibility.
3. Figure out household size by counting the number of individuals who the sponsor claims or could claim as a dependent for Federal income tax purposes.
4. Get the monthly gross income limit based on household size from Chapter 568, Appendix A.
5. Subtract the monthly gross income limit from Step 4 from the sponsor’s income from Step 2. The amount left is considered unearned income.
6. Deem the amount left from Step 5 to the non-citizen's household as unearned income regardless of whether the non-citizen gets the money from the sponsor.
If the sponsor's actual payment to the household is more than the deemed amount, the CAO must count the amount paid as unearned income available to the non-citizen's household.
7 CFR § 273.4(c)(2)(iii)
If the sponsor can prove that he or she sponsors other non-citizens, the CAO must divide the deemed income and resources equally among the sponsored non-citizens who have applied for or are getting SNAP benefits.
7 CFR § 273.4(c)(2)(v)
The number of sponsored households or household members is not a factor. The CAO must deem income and resources in equal shares to each sponsored non-citizen whether or not he or she lives in the same household.
If the non-citizen reports a change in sponsors, the CAO must recalculate the deemed income and resources, using information from the new sponsor. The new sponsor's income and resources are deemed until the affidavit of support is no longer binding. The change is made for the first month for which the CAO can meet the deadline.
7 CFR § 273.4(c)(4)
The CAO must continue to deem the sponsor's income and resources until the non-citizen gets a new sponsor, the sponsor dies, the non-citizen dies or the affidavit of support is no longer binding.
If an overissuance happens due to incorrect sponsor information, the CAO must apply the rules of Supplemental Handbook Chapter 910, Restitution and Disqualification.
7 CFR § 273.4(c)(4)
Ineligible non-citizens who may not receive SNAP benefits under any circumstance are individuals:
7 CFR § 273.4(a)
Lawfully living in the U.S. and subject to the restrictions on receiving SNAP. These individuals include those who:
are described in # 4 of Section 522.32, Qualified Non-Citizens
enter the U.S. for a temporary reason and have no intention of permanently leaving their home country such as visitors, tourists, students and diplomats.
entered the U.S. without visas or overstayed their visas.
are admitted to the U.S. under color of law.
have questionable or unverified status
Are granted "U" immigrant status or a "U" visa. These individuals are victims of criminal activity who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and who may remain in the U.S. to help law enforcement agencies or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. Non-citizens granted "U" visas may remain in the U.S. for up to 4 years. They may qualify for SNAP if they adjust to an eligible status such as an LPR or battered non-citizen.
NOTE: Ineligible non-citizens may not get SNAP benefits for themselves but may apply for and get benefits on behalf of other eligible household members.
Revised October 6, 2014, replacing March 1, 2013