Can I get SNAP – Food Stamp benefits as an immigrant?

unemployed_questionA) As an immigrant, you may be eligible for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), also known as food stamp benefits, depending on your immigration status and other factors.

Generally, immigrants who are lawfully present in the United States and meet the other eligibility requirements can receive SNAP benefits. However, certain categories of immigrants may be ineligible or have restrictions on eligibility for SNAP.

For example, undocumented immigrants, most immigrants who entered the U.S. on or after August 22, 1996, and certain categories of lawful noncitizens (such as those with temporary status or those who are subject to a five-year waiting period) are generally ineligible for SNAP.

If you are an immigrant and have questions about your eligibility for SNAP, you should contact your local SNAP office or a qualified legal representative for guidance.

Certain legal, qualified immigrants may be eligible for SNAP and must meet the same eligibility requirements as U.S. citizens. An example of a legal immigrant who may qualify is a lawful permanent resident (LPR, i.e. immigrants with green cards). Most LPRs have a waiting period of 5 years before they can get benefits. Aliens admitted to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons such as refugees or asylees are eligible without a waiting period. Certain elderly, disabled, children under 18, and LPRs with a military connection are also eligible without a waiting period. Eligible household members may be eligible even if there are other members in the household who are not eligible.

Immigrant Eligibility Requirements

The 2002 Farm Bill restores SNAP eligibility to most legal immigrants that:

  • Have lived in the country for 5 years; or
  • Are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits; or
  • Children under 18
  • Certain non-citizens such as those admitted for humanitarian reasons and those admitted for permanent residence may also eligible for the program. Eligible household members can get SNAP benefits even if there are other members of the household that are not eligible.

Non-citizens that are in the U.S. temporarily, such as students, are not eligible.

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