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Can you get EA if you are not a United States citizen or not a Massachusetts resident?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed October 2022

Immigration Status

EA is available to many persons with legal status including refugees, lawful permanent residents, Cuban/Haitian entrants, and persons residing in the U.S. under color of law. For a full definition of eligible non-citizens, see 106 CMR 203.675. See also the DTA Non-Citizen Desk Guide. EA eligibility is determined in the guide the same as EAEDC eligibility.

If any member of your household has one of these statuses or is a U.S.citizen, your entire household meets this requirement. 760 CMR 67.02(7). For example, if a mother and one child are undocumented but the youngest child is a lawful permanent resident, the entire household has eligible immigration status for EA shelter.

For EA shelter purposes, a household consists of at least one child, parents, stepparent or caretaker relatives, legal guardians, and siblings (including half- and stepsiblings) of the child. For example, a family consisting of a child, her mother, stepfather, and stepsister are seeking EA, but only the stepsister is a U.S. citizen or has eligible status, the entire household has eligible immigration status for EA.

State Residency

In July 2012, EOHLC (formerly DHCD) began verifying that all members of a family seeking shelter are residents of the Commonwealth. 760 CMR 67.02(1)(c).

Any third-party verification that shows you are in the Commonwealth with the intent to reside should be good enough to prove Massachusetts residency.

The preferred forms of verification for adults are a Massachusetts I.D. or driver’s license or a current utility bill, but good alternatives are proof that any of the children in the family are registered for school in Massachusetts, or proof of voter registration in Massachusetts. Also acceptable are letters from a child’s primary care doctor listing a Massachusetts address, mail from a state or federal agency that is addressed to you at a Massachusetts address, or a cell phone bill addressed to you at a Massachusetts address.

Registration in school can be verified by a transcript or in a letter on the school’s letterhead, which should be able to be obtained quickly.

If you are denied for lack of proof of Massachusetts residency and you intend to remain in Massachusetts and need emergency shelter, contact an advocate.

For a complete list of documents EOHLC says it will accept as proof of eligible immigration status and Massachusetts residency (and identity), see pages 4-6 of Housing Stabilization Notice 2012-08.

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