Can my children get benefits if I am an ineligible immigrant?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

You have the right to apply for eligible household members, such as U.S. citizen children or spouses. If you or other household members do not have legal status or do not wish to receive SNAP, you can exclude yourself from the SNAP application.  

When you fill out a SNAP application, you do need to list all household members who “purchase and prepare” food together or who are children under age 22 if living with parents. However, you can state which household members are not applying to receive the SNAP benefits. And DTA should not seek proof of immigration status of anyone not applying to get SNAP benefits. 106 C.M.R. § 362.220

NOTE: Even if you are not eligible for SNAP or choose to not apply, you must provide DTA with information on your income and expenses. This is because you are a parent or spouse who is legally and financially responsible for your dependents.

Advocacy Reminders:

  • DTA should only ask for proof of the U.S. citizenship of your children or other eligible household members if their status is “questionable.” 106 C.M.R. § 362.210. A child born in the U.S. to immigrant parents is not a basis for determining something as questionable. 
  • The SNAP application form allows applicants to identify immigrant household members not seeking benefits. If you file an on-line SNAP application, in the “personal information” section you are can indicate programs that the individual is applying for. You can also send a written statement with the other proofs sent in to clarify who is and is not applying for benefits. See also DTA Brochure, “What Non-citizens Need to Know,” See Appendix D.
  • DTA cannot does not take a photo (for the EBT card) of any adult or authorized representative applying on behalf of eligible dependents but not for him/herself. See How can the DTA Ombuds Office help?

DTA Policy Guidance:

Online Guide Sections: SNAP > Eligibility Requirements > Noncitizen > Battered Noncitizen

Additional Guidance
  • Extensive DTA guidance on the right of non-citizens to opt out of SNAP application, not provide information on immigrant status and apply for just the eligible family members seeking assistance. Guidance includes opt-out form, client brochure and resource list of agencies. F.O. Memo 2004-34 (Sept. 24, 2004)

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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