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Appendix D: Cash and SNAP Benefits for Immigrants

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Greater Boston Legal Services
Reviewed March 2023
Immigrant Status SNAP EAEDC Cash Assistance TAFDC Cash Assistance
U.S. citizens (born in the United States or naturalized) and Native Americans Eligible Eligible Eligible
Refugee, asylee, Cuban/Haitian entrant*, person granted withholding of deportation or removal, Amerasian immigrant, and Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders, certain Afghans and Ukrainians granted humanitarian parole.

(This list is referred to elsewhere in this chart as the “Refugee Group.")

Eligible Eligible Eligible
Lawful permanent resident (LPR)s Eligible if LPR is:
  • under age 18;
  • adjusted from refugee group status;
  • lived in U.S. as qualified immigrant** for 5 years;
  • receives a cash or medical disability-based benefit;
  • “lawfully resided” in the U.S. and was 65 on 8/22/96; or
  • LPR credited with 40 Qs of work.
Eligible Eligible if:
  • adjusted from refugee group status; ·
  • physically entered the U.S. before 8/22/96;
  • lived in U.S. as qualified immigrant** for five years; or
  • Is a battered noncitizen (see below).
Victim of Trafficking (in persons) Eligible Eligible Eligible
       
       
**In this context "qualified immigrant" means (1) lawful permanent resident, (2) parolee for at least one year (unless exempt from the 12 months as noted), (3) in the “refugee group”, or (4) a battered noncitizen.    
Battered noncitizens, and their children/parents (including Violence Against Women Act self-petitioners, family petitioners, and lawful permanent residents who have been abused) Eligible if:
  • lived in the U.S as qualified
    immigrant** for 5 years;
  • under age 18;
  • receives a disability-based
    benefit;
  • “lawfully resided” in U.S. and was 65 on 8/22/96; or
  • LPR with 40 Qs of work
Eligible Eligible
Humanitarian Parole

If granted parole for 365 days

Afghan evacuees paroled into the U.S. between July 31, 2021 and September 30, 2022 (+ some family members paroled after Sept. 30, 2022), who are considered refugees and do not have a waiting period.

Ukrainians paroled into the US between February 24, 2022 and Sept. 30, 2023, who are considered refugees, do not have to have been granted at least one year of parole, and do not have a waiting period.

Haitian or Cuban nationals paroled any time to U.S. (See Cuban/Haitian entrant status*.)

Same as LPRs above including 5 year wait for some.

Eligible
 

Eligible
 

Eligible

All eligible, regardless of length of parole or country of origin Same as LPRs above

Eligible
 

Eligible
 

Eligible

Lawfully residing Veteran, active-duty service member, spouse, & dependent children Eligible if a qualified
immigrant*
Eligible Eligible
Immigrant permanently residing in U.S. under color of law (PRUCOL)^ In general, No.

Exceptions if also falls into another category, including a battered noncitizen, Cuban/Haitian entrant, or humanitarian parole. 

Eligible In general, No.

Exceptions if also falls into another category, including a battered noncitizen, Cuban/Haitian entrant, or humanitarian parole. 

Non-immigrant (tourist, student) No No No
Undocumented/out of status No No No

 

Under federal law, all non-citizens regardless of immigration status are eligible for the following:

  • Federally funded National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and other child nutrition programs, Head Start programs.
  • Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program for pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and children under age 5.
  • Meals on Wheels and other elder nutrition programs.
  • Other non-means-tested food provided at the community level, like TEFAP and MEFAP funding for food pantries, food provided at homeless shelters, child protection services, and domestic violence, mental health, and substance abuse treatment programs.

 

* Cuban/Haitian entrants include any Cuban or Haitian national who: (1) was paroled into the U.S., (2) has filed a application for asylum, or (3) is in removal proceedings but does not have a final, enforceable order of removal, including those with an Order of Supervision.  Children born to Haitian parents outside Haiti are Haitian nationals who may qualify as Cuban/Haitian entrants. 

** Qualified immigrant above means (1) lawful permanent resident, (2) parolee for at least one year (unless exempt from the 12 months as noted), (3) in the “refugee group”, or (4) a battered noncitizen.    

^ PRUCOL: Refers to immigrants who are considered “permanently residing in the United States under color of law.” Immigrants are often considered PRUCOL under certain programs if they are known to the USCIS and the USCIS does not presently contemplate enforcing their departure. PRUCOL is not an immigration status and will not appear as a term on any immigration documents.

PRUCOL immigrants often have employment authorization (EAD) or some other proof of granted immigration status or a pending status. Examples of immigrants who are considered PRUCOL include - but are not limited to - persons granted or with an application pending for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Action status, under Order of Supervision, with a pending application for Legal Permanent Residency, Asylum applicants, U Visa recipients and applicants (victims of violence) and others.

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