8. What if you are not a citizen?

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Notas finales

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Some noncitizens are eligible for TAFDC. If you are a noncitizen who is not eligible for yourself, you can apply for your children if they are eligible. There are four groups of noncitizens who meet noncitizen eligibility rules.

  • Refugees and other noncitizens granted special legal status because they are fleeing persecution, including
    • persons who entered the U.S. as refugees,
    • persons granted asylum after entering the U.S.,
    • persons granted withholding of deportation or removal,
    • certain Vietnamese Amerasians (generally individuals fathered by U.S. military members during the Vietnam conflict),
    • certain Cuban or Haitian nationals who
  • entered the U.S. with parole status,
  • are in removal proceedings but there is no final, enforceable order of removal, including those with an order of supervision,
  • have a pending application for asylum, or
  • meet other rules for Cuban/Haitian entrants.
  • Ukrainians Humanitarian Parolees (UHP), including
    • Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians who last resided in Ukraine who have humanitarian parole status that was granted between February 24, 2022 and September 30, 2023.
  • Spouse or child of a UHP who is paroled into the U.S. after September 30, 2023.
  • Parent, legal guardian or primary caregiver of an unaccompanied refugee minor or UHP child who is paroled into the U.S. after September 30, 2023.
  • Afghan evacuees who have humanitarian parole status
  • Afghan or Iraqi military interpreters and their families granted Special Immigrant status, or
  • victims of trafficking in human beings

Persons in this group meet noncitizen rules without any waiting period and whether or not they have become lawful permanent residents.

  • Lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders or “LPRs”) or noncitizens granted parole status for at least one year (this is granted for humanitarian reasons) who
    • have had lawful permanent resident or parole status for a minimum of five years, or
    • previously were refugees or had another refugee group status (see above), or
    • have been continuously present in the U.S. (with no long interruptions) since at least August 21, 1996 (even if lawful permanent resident or parole status was granted within the past five years).
  • Veterans of the U.S. military and active duty military personnel who are lawfully residing in the U.S. (even if not LPRs), their spouses, surviving spouses who have not remarried, and their children; and
  • Battered noncitizens who meet certain legal status requirements and were abused by a spouse, parent, or member of the spouse’s or parent’s family, such as an in-law (and the children or parents of battered noncitizens). See the special noncitizen eligibility rules for battered immigrants and their families.

See 106 C.M.R. § 703.430; Appendix E (DTA Online Guide Links).

Advocacy Reminders

  • A child born in the United States is a citizen regardless of the parent’s immigration status. Citizens also include most people born abroad to or adopted by a U.S. citizen. See DTA Transitions, May 2006, p. 3. If your child is eligible but you yourself do not meet the noncitizen requirements, you can apply for and receive benefits for your citizen child but not for yourself. See getting TAFDC just for your children if you're not a citizen.
  • For details on how DTA verifies noncitizen status, see Appendix E (DTA Online Guide Links); DTA Operations Memos 2013-14A (May 2, 2013); 2012-5 (Jan. 23, 2012); DTA Field Operations Memo 2010-36A (Sept. 29, 2010). DTA must give you a reasonable time to provide documentation and should not delay or deny benefits until documentation is provided. St. 2010, c. 131, § 182.
  • Children born to Haitian parents outside of Haiti are Haitian nationals. They can qualify for TAFDC as Cuban/Haitian Entrants on the same basis as other Haitians.
  • If you are an eligible noncitizen parent, but your child does not meet noncitizen rules (for example, if your child is a lawful permanent resident who entered the U.S. within the past five years), you may be eligible for yourself because you have a dependent child in your care even though the child is not eligible for benefits. See DTA Transitions, Nov. 2002, p. 2; May 2007, p. 3.
  • A disabled adult who does not meet TAFDC noncitizen requirements may qualify for EAEDC (Elders, Disabled and Children benefits) if he or she meets all EAEDC requirements. DTA Field Operations Memo 2008-43 (Aug. 15, 2008). The EAEDC Advocacy Guide explains EAEDC disability rules and procedures. See www.masslegalservices.org under Legal Advocacy Guides. DTA has not agreed that disabled noncitizen children can qualify for EAEDC but DTA hearing officers have approved benefits for them.
  • Immigration officials ask some noncitizens applying for a green card or applying for admission to the U.S. questions about use of cash assistance, like TAFDC. The purpose of these questions is to help determine if the person is likely to become a “public charge” (not able to support themselves). If the government determines someone is likely to become a “public charge,” the government can deny admission to the U.S. or deny an application for lawful permanent residency (Green Card). The “public charge” rule does not apply to most noncititzens who are eligible for TAFDC. For more information on public charge, visit MassLegalServices.org/publiccharge, Mass.gov/info-details/information-about-the-public-charge-rule-and-how-it-may-impact-you,www.uscis.gov; and protectingimmigrantfamilies.org.
  • There are different noncitizen eligibility rules for Emergency Assistance (shelter and rehousing services for homeless families) and for SNAP (food stamps). See www.masslegalservices.org under Legal Advocacy Guides for these programs.
  • DTA does not count the income of a sponsor unless you actually receive it and does not count sponsor assets at all. DTA Field Operations Memo 2008-65 (Dec. 8, 2008). DTA also does not count sponsor income or assets for SNAP (food stamps) except in a few very special circumstances.
  • DTA cannot report you to immigration authorities unless you apply for benefits for yourself (not just your eligible dependents), you are under a final order of deportation, and you show DTA a copy of the final order. 106 C.M.R. § 703.430. You can choose not to provide DTA with information about your noncitizen status. See DTA’s brochure, “What Noncitizens Need to Know,” (Sept. 2009); Appendix E (DTA Online Guide Links).


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