The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

37. What if I am not a U.S. citizen?

ALERT:  Many of the rules in the TAFDC/EAEDC Advocacy Guide do NOT apply during the pandemic. Please go to the following COVID-19 & DTA benefits page: https://www.masslegalservices.org/DTA-COVID-19 until further notice for more information about changes.

Some non-citizens are eligible for EAEDC. You are an "eligible noncitizen"  who qualifies for EAEDC if you are legally present in the U.S. or "permanently residing under color of law" ("PRUCOL"). 106 C.M.R. § 703.440.

To be an "eligible noncitizen," you must be:

  • A legal permanent resident (“LPR” or "green card" holder);
  • A person who is present in the U.S. as a refugee;
  • A person granted asylum after entering the U.S.;
  • A Vietnamese Amerasian immigrant (e.g., the offspring of a U.S. citizen conceived during the Vietnam war;
  • A Cuban/Haitian entrant – defined as a national of Cuba or Haiti who has parole status, an order of supervision, a pending application for asylum or an application for certain other statuses;
  • A person  granted withholding of deportation or removal;
  • A person granted parolee status (generally based on humanitarian or public interest reasons) for at least one year;
  • A conditional entrant;
  • A victim of trafficking in persons;
  • An Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holder (for Iraqi and Afghan military interpreters and their dependents);
  • A person "lawfully residing" in the U.S., and you have been battered by a spouse or parent or member of your family with whom you no longer live and you have filed a petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (this also applies to your minor child);
  • A person "lawfully residing" in the U.S. and are a veteran with an honorable discharge or an active duty service member, or you are the spouse or dependent child/ren of the veteran or service member; or
  • A person "permanently residing under color of law" or PRUCOL. PRUCOL means that you have an immigration status granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a formal application pending with USCIS, or you have proof that USCIS knows you are here and is not planning to deport or remove you.
    • There is a two-prong test for PRUCOL:

1.USCIS is aware of your presence in the U.S. (e.g. work authorization or some other proof of granted immigration status or a pending application), and

2.USCIS makes no effort to deport or remove you.

Examples of PRUCOL: granted Deferred Action status including Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), under Order of Supervision, pending asylum or LPR application, U-Visa recipient (victim of violence), living in the U.S. since January 1, 1972, or other statutes where the immigrant is “known to USCIS” but not being deported or removed.

To verify one of these statuses, you need to show DTA documentation of your contact with USCIS. This could be a copy of whatever documents you have, a letter written by your lawyer about your immigration status or a copy of a receipt from USCIS that you have applied for a document or status. Be sure to confirm your documents with an advocate before you go to the DTA office.

Sponsor Deeming

There is no deeming of sponsor income or assets in the EAEDC program. See DTA Transitions, March, 2000, p. 4 and DTA Field Operations Memo 2008-65 (December 9, 2008). If you are a sponsored immigrant and your sponsor has failed to support you, you cannot be denied EAEDC benefits. See Question 52.

Undocumented/Out of Status or Non-Immigrant Noncitizens

If you are a noncitizen who is undocumented or out of status, or you have a non-immigrant visa status (such as a visitor, student or diplomat), you are not eligible for EAEDC. 106 C.M.R. § 703.440(D). However, you can still be the authorized representative for an eligible child or adult.

Important: Do not go to USCIS without speaking with an immigration lawyer. In some cases, receiving EAEDC or other cash assistance benefits may hurt your immigration case.

Advocacy Reminders:
  • DTA has no authority to report anyone to USCIS without the person's written permission. 106 C.M.R. § 703.460.
  • For details on how DTA verifies non-citizen status, see DTA Online Guide: EAEDC > General Nonfinancial Requirements > Noncitizen > Noncitizen Introduction; DTA Operations Memos 2013-14A (May 2, 2013) and 2012-5 (January 23, 2012). DTA must give you a reasonable time to provide documentation and should not delay or deny benefits until documentation is provided. St. 2010, c. 131, § 182.
  • An expired immigration document does not necessarily mean that your immigration status has expired. DTA should presume you may still have legal status and check the federal Systemic Alien Verification of Entitlements (SAVE) program:
    • LPR cards are usually valid for 10 years from the date of issuance. The expiration date indicates when your card must be renewed. An expired card does not mean your LPR status has expired. DTA should accept an expired card as verification unless it has information that your status has been revoked by USCIS.
    • An expired Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or any other expired document also does not necessarily mean your immigration status has expired. DTA can check your immigration status through SAVE or use other documents you may have. If you applied for renewal of your immigration document or adjustment of status, DTA should assume continuation of your current status.

   See DTA Transitions, Oct. 2007, p. 9.   

  • You may be PRUCOL ("permanently residing under color of law") even if you have not been granted an official immigration status. Be sure to check the rules.
  • A person born on U.S. soil, including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, is a U.S. citizen regardless of the parent's immigration status. Citizens also include most people born abroad to or adopted by a U.S. citizen. If you are the caretaker of an eligible minor child and you do not meet the requirements, you can receive benefits for the child but not for yourself.
  • A parent or a child who does not meet the TAFDC immigrant status rules but does meet an EAEDC category of eligibility as well as the EAEDC immigrant rules may qualify for EAEDC. See Question 29.
  • If you are a noncitizen, receiving EAEDC may make the immigration authorities think you will not be able to support yourself and will become a "public charge" primarily dependent on the government for support. This can be a problem if you intend to apply for a green card (LPR status) or want to leave the U.S. for a period of time and return.  Receiving EAEDC does not by itself make you a “public charge” – but you should consult an immigration specialist before applying for a green card or leaving the U.S. If you are already an LPR, or you are a refugee or asylee waiting to become an LPR, receiving EAEDC should not affect your ability to become a U.S. citizen. For more information on “public charge,” visit the USCIS website, www.uscis.gov; the National Immigration Law Center, www.nilc.org; or MassLegalHelp, www.masslegalhelp.org.

ü  For copies of USCIS issued documents and a key to USCIS immigration codes, see materials produced by the National Immigration Law Center available at masslegalservices.org/system/files/library/IG%20%20NILC%20Table%20.pdf [Editor's Note: Link is no longer active]

ü  USCIS has a special process for immigrants to correct wrong or incomplete information in SAVE: www.uscis.gov/save. Contact an advocate if DTA says SAVE has not confirmed your status or if you wish to correct the information in SAVE.

DTA Policy Guidance:

DTA Online Guide: Noncitizen Policy and Procedures EAEDC; and EAEDC > General Nonfinancial Requirements > Noncitizen > Eligible Qualified Noncitizens

Disabled LPRs receiving EAEDC are not subject to the 5-year bar for SNAP/Food Stamps if disability meets disability severity of SSI as determined by UMass Disability Evaluation Service (DES). Elderly LPRs (age 65+) are not subject to the 5-year bar for SNAP if receiving EAEDC and provide statement from MD re-disability, no need for UMass DES review. Hotline Q &A (October 2014).
 


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