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1 Safety Net Income & Food for Immigrant-headed Households Basic Benefits Training, March 2013 Patricia Baker, Mass Law Reform Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Safety Net Income & Food for Immigrant-headed Households Basic Benefits Training, March 2013 Patricia Baker, Mass Law Reform Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Safety Net Income & Food for Immigrant-headed Households Basic Benefits Training, March 2013 Patricia Baker, Mass Law Reform Institute

2 2 Common Barriers to Accessing Benefits  Fear of government  Misinformation about eligibility rules  Fear of “public charge”  Limited English, lack of interpreter services  Unfair treatment based on national origin  Fear of state contacting feds/sponsor

3 3 Key Eligibility Questions to Ask Immigrant Clients 1.Current immigration status? 2.HOW did client get status? 3.Date of physical entry to US 4.Date of legal “entry” in status? 5.Was client sponsored (affects SSI) and type of affidavit of support? 6.If LPR, any U.S. work history (of client, spouse, parents before age 18)?

4 4 Review of federally “qualified”  Legal permanent resident (LPR)  Humanitarian Parolee (min. of 1 year)  Refugee  Granted Political Asylum  Granted Withholding of Deportation  Cuban/Haitian entrant  Domestic violence victim, parent/child  Victim of trafficking

5 5 Also “Qualified” Immigrants  Border Native American Indians born outside United States (e.g. Canada)  Hmong or Highland Laotian tribe members and certain dependents AND  US veterans or military service members, and their dependents who are “lawfully present”

6 6 Cuban/Haitian Entrants as “qualified aliens” Nationals of Cuba or Haiti* who were: Granted as “Cuban/Haitian Entrant (status pending)” Paroled into U.S after 10/1/1980 Asylum application pending In removal, deportation or exclusion proceedings (no final, non-appealable order issued) Under “Order of Supervision” ….. or LPR who got status through special federal laws* * Does NOT include Haitians granted TPS status unless Haitian previously had humanitarian parole or pending asylum

7 7 VAWA or Battered Immigrants as “qualified aliens”  Battered by spouse or parents in the US  No longer living with batterer and  Immigrant has either an approved or pending petition for: LPR status based on relative petition (I-130) VAWA self-petition (I-360) OR Suspension of deportation, cancellation  Immigrant is minor child of above immigrant

8 8 Five Year Bar Exceptions Regardless of current LPR status, the 5 year bar does NOT apply to immigrants granted these statuses:  Asylee  Cuban-Haitian entrant  Certain Amerasians (born in Vietnam)  Refugee  Deportation withheld  Certain American Indians (e.g. born in Canada)  Veteran/Active duty & spouse/child  Trafficking victims  Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa LPRs

9 9 Don’t confuse 5-year rule!  In TAFDC, 5 year rule applies only to legal permanent residents & paroled  In SSI & SNAP programs, 5 year rule also applies to battered immigrants  5 year rule does NOT apply to other “qualified” like refugees, even if now LPRs  “Non-qualified” like TPS or U visas do not become “qualified” or eligible for benefits just because they’ve been here 5 years

10 10 TAFDC for LPRs & Parolees  Five year wait applies to both children and adults unless:  LPR with 40 Q countable work history (own work, spousal or of parents),  LPR/parolee meets VAWA or battered immigrant criteria, OR  LPR/parolee was physically present in US as of 8-22-96 and “continuously present.”

11 11 TAFDC for Battered Immigrants  TAFDC eligibility for adult and children without 5 year wait  DTA will accept self-declaration as temporary verification of battered status if documents lost/stolen

12 12 SNAP for LPRs, Parolees and Battered Immigrants  NO 5 year wait for children  Exceptions for adults – LPR with 40 Q of work history. Receiving disability-based benefit such as EAEDC, MA-DA, TAFDC/disabled parent Is a lawfully residing veteran/dependent Special rules for elder LPRs with disabilities  For battered, count from date of filing for adjustment or VAWA petition

13 13 Exercise #1  Marie Baptiste is 38 years and comes from Haiti. She has an employment authorization card with the code A-12 on it, but is not sure what her legal status is. She works part time but also struggles with diabetes. Can she get SNAP?  You learn that Marie first came after the January 2010 earthquake, granted Humanitarian Parole. How does that change her eligibility?

14 14 Exercise #2  Thelma O’Neill and her 3 year old son came from Ireland 2 years ago. Her US cit husband started the LPR paperwork but he dropped the case once they separated. She left him after he hit her. Is she eligible for SNAP and TAFDC?

15 15 EAEDC Cash Benefit for Immigrants  LPRs, parolees, battered (no 5 year wait)  Refugees, Asylees, Cuban/Haitians, etc  Immigrants “permanently residing under color of law” or PRUCOL – two prong test : USCIS aware of presence in US (e.g. work authorization, pending application), and No effort underway by USCIS to deport.

16 16 Examples of PRUCOL  Temporary Protected Status (TPS)  Applicants for asylum  Pending a relative/employer petition  U visa (victim of violence) and some of the other “non-immigrant” visa statuses  Living in U.S. since Jan. 1, 1972 (Register)  Living under order of supervision  Other statuses where immigrant is “known to USCIS” but not being deported

17 17 “Qualified Aliens” and SSI  “Refugee” group get 7 years SSI from “entry” unless 2 year extension  Immigrants receiving SSI as of 8/22/96  Immigrants in U.S. on 8/22/96 and 65+  Disabled LPRs who: were “lawfully present” as of 8/22/96 and currently “qualified aliens”  LPRs who have 40 Q work history  Certain Veterans “lawfully residing” and their dependents

18 18 40 Quarters work history - Why it’s important:  Establishes SSI eligibility for “refugee group” after 7-9 years and non-refugee LPRs (after 5 years in LPR status)  Jumps 5 year bar for LPRs subject to rule under FS/SNAP and TAFDC  Ends sponsor legal obligation to support and sponsor deeming in programs with deeming

19 19 40 Quarters of Work History – What work counts?  40 quarters is approximately 10 years of work  Can get credit for spouse’s quarters (earned during marriage) and for parent’s quarters (earned before LPR was 18 years old, including before birth)  But NO credit for quarters on/after 1997 in which LPR or worker received Medicaid, SSI, food stamps, TANF or SCHIP

20 20 Exercise #3  Mrs. Pappas is 67, came from Greece 6 years ago with a green card via a relative petition (by her US citizen husband). She asks you about getting SSI or EAEDC cash assistance. Can she get EAEDC and what do you need to ask her to figure out if she qualifies for SSI?

21 21 Exercise #4  Sam Wong is 52. He came to the U.S. as a visiting scholar in 1995 and stayed on. He became a permanent resident 2 years ago. He recently suffered a stroke and is disabled. He has run out of assets and income.  Is he “qualified”?  Is he eligible for SSI?

22 22 Mixed Immigrant Status Important to know:  Immigrant’s Right to “Opt Out” and  How DTA benefits are calculated for “mixed households”

23 23 Right to “Opt Out”  Can “exclude” ineligible immigrant member in SNAP or TAFDC application  SSN/immigration status not required for excluded member – but HH benefits lower  Ineligible immigrant must report own income and assets even if excluded  HH may get higher benefits for eligible members if immigrant has legal status (including PRUCOL) and provides proof

24 24 Treatment of Income in “Mixed” status households  For SNAP: If legally present immigrants ineligible or “opts out” – favorable income calc maximize SNAP for HH. If undocumented or unwilling to provide proof of status - unfavorable SNAP “sanction” calc of immigrant’s income, lower SNAP for HH  For TAFDC: Whether undocumented or legal ineligible - income above one-person TAFDC amount for parent (e.g. $388) “deemed” to kids grant

25 25 Example #5  Juana Ramos is 40 years old and her two children, born in the US. Juana has TPS and works part time. Does she or her kids qualify for TAFDC? Do they qualify for SNAP?

26 26 Mixed SNAP Calc: Legally present –ineligible parent : STEP 1: Determine max FS/SNAP benefits for entire HH with all income. STEP 2: Determine max benefits for JUST eligible members - exclude immigrant as HH member and exclude all immigrant’s income. STEP 3: HH gets the lesser of the two – but more than if in sanction calc.

27 27 Mixed SNAP Calc for undocumented parent: STEP 1: Determine max FS/SNAP benefits for entire household excluding immigrant in HH size but including immigrant’s income STEP 2: Family gets lower benefits as if immigrant did not exist, but all their income is counted as available.

28 28 Example #6  Juana Ramos is 40 years old and her two children, born in the US. Juana is undocumented but she works full time caring for children. How many HH members get SNAP? How is Juana’s income counted for the SNAP benefits?

29 29 Who’s NOT Eligible for ANY DTA/SSA Cash or SNAP Benefits?  Undocumented immigrants  Under final order of deportation  Certain “non-immigrants” (tourists, students, business)

30 30 Key programs without immigrant restrictions  School Lunch and Breakfast  Women, Infant and Children nutrition services  Summer Food Service and Elder feeding programs  Food bank and emergency feeding programs  Short-term non-cash disaster relief  Health safety-net programs  Programs delivered at the community level, that are not conditioned on income or resources and necessary to protect life or safety

31 31 Other Issues Affecting Immigrants Seeking Benefits  Verification of status  SSN requirements  Sponsor deeming  “Reporting” of immigrants to DHS  “Public charge” consequences of benefit receipt

32 32 Verification of status  Must show documents when applying – such as I-551 “green card”, I-688 work authorization, I-94 arrival/departure or other documents  Most state and federal agencies use “SAVE” system to confirm status  Secondary verification process used if immigration status not confirmed in SAVE – takes more time

33 33 Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE)  Required for SNAP, TAFDC, EAEDC, SSI  Computerized immigration status check between DTA, RMV, SSA and USCIS  Three step verification process by state agency, depending on response  Client right to challenge SAVE info  FS/SNAP and TAFDC paid pending SAVE check if no initial confirmed response

34 34 Social Security Number (SSN)  Required for persons seeking all benefits - SSI, SNAP, TAFDC, EAEDC, MassHealth  All adults and children must provide SSN or apply for one with SSA.  Not required for immigrants not seeking benefits for themselves (“opt out”)  Never give tax ID (ITEN) as an SSN  DTA confirms SSNs and pending SSNs through SDX (SSA’s state data exchange)

35 35 State Agency Reporting to DHS?  Information provided to DTA is PRIVATE, cannot be shared unless client permission  DTA cannot insist on immigrant status info if not applying, NO fishing expeditions!  DTA allowed to “report” to DHS only when immigrant is “known to be unlawfully present” – Immigrant has applied for cash or FS for self Immigrant is under a Final Order of Deportation AND immigrant SHOWS proof of this

36 36 Public Charge and Benefits  “Public charge” - USCIS term for immigrants who might become dependent on public benefits  Test of immigrant’s ability to support himself, based on six factors: age, health, income, family size, education and skill  Non-cash benefits (SNAP, MassHealth, WIC, fuel-assistance) – not trigger public charge  Cash assistance and long-term care may trigger public charge

37 37 Public Charge and Benefits  Public charge issue may surface when - Immigrant in LPR adjustment process LPRs leave country for more than 6 months and seek reentry to U.S.  Public charge should NOT surface, even if seeking green card or reentry: Refugee group LPRS applying for U.S. citizenship Special immigrant juveniles Battered immigrant/ VAWA Petitioners Others (consult with immigration specialist)

38 38 For more information  Mass Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition:, 617/350-5480  Mass Legal Services website:  Mass Law Reform Institute:  National Immigration Law Center  Greater Boston Legal Service  National Immigration Forum:  Dept of Homeland Security  USDA SNAP Non-Citizen Guidance: Citizen_Guidance_063011.pdf

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