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Immigrants and SNAP
To put it simply...
LPR: Legal/Lawful Permanent Resident, someone who possesses a green card
'Qualified' Immigrant: an LPR
'Unqualified' Immigrant: undocumented immigrant, those on student or tourist visas and those with temporary protective status.
Public Charge: an immigrant who has become or likely to become dependent on the government for subsistence.
Refugee/Asylee: individuals who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of fear of persecution due to race, religion or ethnic group.
In order to be eligible, an immigrant must be
and meet at
least one other of the following conditions:
Under 18 years old
Living in US for 5 or more years with 'qualified' status (aka possess a green card for at least 5 years)
Considered disabled under SNAP rules (receiving SSI/SSD
Honorably discharged veteran or the spouses of such veterans, or even their unmarried dependent children
Families with Undocumented Immigrants...
Even if one family member is ineligible due to their undocumented status, their household may still be able to receive benefits!
Undocumented parents may apply for SNAP for their children that are U.S citizens.
Please note, they will not be forced to reveal information regarding their own immigration status.
Legal immigrants are eligible for food stamps after they have been in the US for five years.
Some immigrants are eligible right away; children, people receiving disability benefits and refugees.
Undocumented immigrants are NOT eligible for food stamps.
If only it were that easy...
So...how do you calculate income and resources for households
with mixed immigration status?
Prorate: verb. to divide, distribute, or calculate proportionately.
An ineligible household member is not included when determining the size of the SNAP household.
However, all resources of an ineligible household member count as part of the household's total resources.
share of income from the ineligible household member is part of the household's total income.
Benefits cannot be denied because an ineligible member of the family has not disclosed their own immigration status. However, when it comes to income and expenses, emphasize honesty! Do not give false social security numbers! The CAO has a database to verify immigration status of applicants.
To determine the
share of income...
Find out the ineligible person's monthly gross income,
divide the amount of the income by the total number of household members
(including ineligible members).
The resulting amount is the ineligible individual's prorated share.
The same process used to prorate income is used to prorate expenses.
Shelter costs (rent/mortgage, property taxes and homeowner's insurance) are prorated.
The Standard Utility Allowance is granted but NOT prorated.
Eunice is an undocumented immigrant from West Africa. She has two children who were born in the United States. As a hairdresser, Eunice makes about $120 a week. Rent is $250 per month and gas, electric, water and telephone is billed separately. She has about $100 in the bank.
Although Eunice cannot receive SNAP, she can apply for her two children. Although the actual household size is 3, the SNAP household size is 2. Eunice's income and rent must be prorated to determine the household's potential SNAP benefit. Eunice's resources and utility expenses are not prorated. Since there are 3 people in the household, but only 2 are applicants, Eunice's income should be multiplied by two-thirds.
Income: $120 x 4 = $480 monthly gross income
$480 x 2/3= $320
Rent: $250 x 2/3 = $165
Resources: $100 (not prorated)
SUA: $536 (in Fiscal Year 2012, also not prorated)
Juan Sanchez moved to the United States in 2000, and received his green card in 2001. His wife, Louise, came to the United States in 2002 but has only had a green card since 2004. They have two children who were born in the United States. Mr. Sanchez'a income is $1000 per month and Mrs. Sanchez's income is $240 per month. They pay about $600 per month in rent and pay for all utilities. Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez have about $400 in the bank and they own a car.
Louise cannot receive SNAP (WHY NOT? Because she has not had her green card for 5 years), but Juan and the 2 children can apply. Since there are 4 household members but only 3 people in the SNAP household, you must multiply the income of Mrs. Sanchez (the ineligible household member) by 3/4. Only the income of ineligible member is prorated. In this situation, Juan's income is not prorated.
Income: $240 x 3/4 = $180 (the prorated share of Mrs. Sanchez's income)
$180 + $1000 (Mr. Sanchez's income) = $1180 (total income)
Rent: $600 x 3/4 = $450
Resources: $400 (not prorated)
If an immigrant works under the table, how do they provide documentation of income?
Caseworkers should be willing to accept a sworn statement from the client. Community Legal Services also developed a 'Verified Statement Form' to use as the sworn statement.
Will applying for SNAP keep me from becoming a citizen?
Many immigrants are hesitant to apply for SNAP because they are concerned it will harm their ability to become a citizen or they will be classified as a 'public charge.' Under current law, participation in SNAP, WIC or school nutrition programs are not considered by the U.S government in deciding whether or not someone will be considered a 'public charge.'
An immigrant will not face additional problems getting a green card or becoming a citizen because the immigrant, their children or their family members receive or have received SNAP.
How does it work if I have a sponsor?
This is where it gets a little complicated...
Certain kinds of immigrants have a sponsor, who is often a family member. This sponsor signs an affidavit of support on behalf of an immigrant as a condition to enter the U.S.
The affidavit states that the sponsor agrees to financially support and maintain the sponsored immigrant at an income that is at least 125% of the federal poverty line.
Sponsored immigrants should disclose their sponsor when applying.
Well that doesn't sound too complicated...
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE...
But wait! There is more...
As part of the affidavit of support, the sponsor agrees to potentially pay back any public benefits that the immigrant may receive.
This includes SNAP, TANF, SSI, SCHIP and non-emergency Medicaid
States are not obligated to seek out sponsors to recover benefits.
'Deeming' occurs when a portion of the sponsor's income and resources are added to the SNAP applicant's income and resources.
Deeming applies to:
non-citizens with affidavits of support made on or after 12/19/1997 or
until the non-citizen has completed 40 qualifying quarters of work or
until they obtain U.S citizenship
(whichever happens first)
I wonder if there are
There are! Sponsor deeming does not apply to any of the following immigrants:
Immigrants who do not have sponsors because they did not immigrate through the application of a family member (i.e refugees, asylees, parolees and Cuban/Haitian entrants)
Qualified immigrants, under age 18
An immigrant that lives with a sponsor receiving SNAP (the sponsor's income and resources are already included and are not counted again)
An immigrant sponsored by an organization
Immigrants in domestic violence situations
An immigrant who will go hungry or homeless without assistance, known as the 'indigence exemption.'
Applies when a sponsored immigrant's household income plus cash contribution and value of in-kind assistance does not exceed the gross income limit for the household
Exemption lasts for one year but may be renewed
When CAO determines that the 'indigence exemption' applies, the name of the immigrant and their sponsor may be forwarded to U.S Department of Justice
Immigrant may choose to withdraw application if they do not what the U.S Department of Justice contacted.
The indigent immigrant should not let this provision keep them from obtaining SNAP. The indigent immigrant will NOT become a public charge because they receive SNAP.
Counting Sponsor Resources and Income
the CAO will:
Total the resources of the sponsor and the sponsor's spouse, deduct $1500 and assume the rest is available to the immigrant.
the CAO will:
Deduct 20% of any earned income from the sponsor and sponsor's spouse
Combine the remaining earned income with any unearned income of sponsor and spouse
Determine the size of sponsor's household by number of persons claimed by the sponsor as a dependent
Deduct the monthly gross income limit for a household of the same size from the total income of the sponsors household.
The remainder is considered the unearned income of the sponsored immigrant
Unless the sponsor's actual payment to non-citizen is more than the remainder. In this case, the payment is regarded as the unearned income.
Mr. and Mrs. Miller sponsor Mrs. Smith and her 2 children.
Mr. Miller has earnings of $2,000 per month. He has a bank account that totals $3,000. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have no other dependents and do not sponsor any other immigrants.
Deduct $1,500 from Mr. Miller’s bank account.
a. $3,000 - $1,500 = $1,500
The remaining $1,500 is counted as a resource for Mrs. Smith.
a. 20% earned income deduction is 0.20 x 2000 = $400
b. $2000 - $400 = $1,600.
c. Gross income limit for household of 2 in 2008 was $1,484. (As of Fiscal Year 2013, the gross income limit for a household of 2 is $2018)
d. $1,600 - $1,484 = $116
$116 is counted as unearned income for Mrs. Smith’s household.
i think this means more math...
So how do you know if you're eligible to be a sponsor?
In order to be a sponsor, one must have an income that is over 125% of the poverty line.
What if I am an immigrant and I would like to sponsor someone else?
Receiving SNAP at one point in time will not prohibit an immigrant from sponsoring family members or other individuals in the future. If an immigrant’s income is low enough to qualify him or her for SNAP, he or she likely will not be eligible to sponsor family members or other individuals while he or she is receiving SNAP. If an immigrant’s income increases and they are no longer receiving SNAP, having received SNAP benefits in the past will not prohibit him or her from sponsoring individuals or families in the future.
If an immigrant’s income is high enough to be a sponsor, he or she likely will not be able to receive SNAP benefits.
When it comes to immigrants and SNAP,
there are a few special groups...
Refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants and victims of human trafficking are all categorized as 'special groups' and have slightly different guidelines when it comes to obtaining benefits. These special groups are eligible immediately after their entry into the United States or the date of determination of their status and remain eligible.
Unlike most LPRs, these groups do not need to legally reside in the U.S. for 5 years in order to be eligible.
These groups must still meet the same income and resource requirements as all other SNAP applicants.
All individuals falling into these categories do not have individual sponsors, though they may be sponsored by an organization. Sponsor deeming does not apply.
Your immigrants and SNAP training is complete.
The CAO will contact US Custom and Immigration services about an undocumented immigrant ONLY when the applicant has shown evidence of unlawful presence, such as an order for deportation. The CAO may NOT contact USCIS about non-applicant household members.