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What are the work rules for non-citizen parents?


DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

Noncitizens who are included in the assistance unit are treated the same as citizens.

Non-citizens who are ineligible for benefits for themselves because of their immigration status but have work authorization or could work for pay are subject to the work rules on the same basis as citizens.

Noncitizens without work authorization cannot be required to look for or take a paid job. DTA requires these noncitizens to do community service unless they are exempt from the work rules for some reason other than lack of work authorization. 106 C.M.R. § 703.150(A)(3). DTA does not allow noncitizens to count education or training on the same basis as citizens. This may be illegal. Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, if DTA will not let you count education or training.

Noncitizens have the same right as citizens to claim an exemption (for example, because of disability) or get a waiver (for example, because of domestic violence) or claim good cause for not meeting the work requirement (for example, because of lack of child care or transportation).

Advocacy Reminder:

  • Ineligible noncitizens should qualify for child care on the same basis as citizens. Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, if DTA denies you child care because you are an ineligible noncitizen, including if you are a noncitizen who does not have work authorization.

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