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

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

You have the right to apply for eligible household members including U.S. citizen children and 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.

As part of the SNAP application, DTA will ask about all household members who “purchase and prepare” food together. Even though part of the “household,” non-citizens can designate the household members not applying for SNAP benefits. You are not required to give proof of your immigration status if you are not applying to get SNAP for yourself. 106 C.M.R.§362.220. However, if you are the parent of a child or spouse, you must give DTA information about your income and expenses. DTA will count your income in calculating the SNAP benefits for 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. Being a U.S. born child to immigrant parents is not questionable.
  • DTA’s SNAP applications are clear that noncitizens who are not applying for SNAP do not need to provide their Social Security Number or citizenship status.
  • See Appendix D for DTA’s Brochure, “What Non-citizens Need to Know.

DTA 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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