To receive SNAP a person must be:


•   A united States citizen or U.S. National;

•   A qualified alien, as described in section 602-1D 2.  Qualified aliens may be subject to limited eligibility as explained in section 602-1 D 4.

•   A Native American born in Canada or Mexico who has treaty rights to cross the U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico borders.

All other household members are treated as excluded household members.  See MS 605-2B.


Refer to MS 605-2 A for policy related to sponsored aliens.


1. United States Citizens and United States Nationals


United States citizens and U.S. Nationals include:


•   Individuals born in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands;

•   Naturalized citizens; and

•   U.S. Nationals born in American Samoa or Swain's Island.  An individual who was not born in American Samoa or Swains Island, but one of his or her parents were born in American Samoa or Swains Island, may be a U.S. National. 


U.S. citizenship is verified only when questionable.  


2. Qualified Aliens


A qualified alien is defined as someone who, at the time of application, is:


a. A lawful permanent resident;

b. An asylee;

c. A refugee;

d. An alien who is a Cuban and Haitian entrant as defined in 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980;

e. An alien granted parole for at least one year by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);

f. An alien who has had deportation withheld under 243(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as in effect prior to April 1, 1997; or 241(b)(3) of the INA, as amended;

g. An alien granted conditional entry under immigration law in effect before April 1, 1980;

h. A battered spouse or child of a battered spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident, and aliens protected under1508 of the Violence against Women Act of 2000;

i. Victims of trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (including certain family members of victims of a severe form of trafficking);

j. Non-citizen Native Americans as defined in 4(e) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, 25 USC 450b(e) and 289 Native Americans;

k. Special immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan admitted under section 101 (a) (27) of the INA.


  3. Native Americans Born Outside the United States


Noncitizen members of federally recognized Indian tribes and certain American Indians born in Canada are exempted from all noncitizen provisions.


An American Indian born in Canada or a member of a federally recognized tribe may freely enter and reside in the U.S. and are considered to be lawful permanent residence and as such are qualified aliens. To be eligible, the individual must have been born outside the U.S. and meet one of the following criteria in addition to all other SNAP eligibility criteria:  


1. An American Indian born in Canada who is at least 50% American Indian blood to whom the provision of section 289 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC. 1359) apply.  This does not include a spouse or child of such an Indian, nor a non-citizen whose membership in an Indian tribe or family is created by adoption, unless such a person is at least 50 % Indian blood; or


2. A member of a federally recognized tribe as defined in section 4(e) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.  Indian tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska -Native Claims Settlement Act.


4. Qualified Aliens Eligible with No Waiting Period


Qualified aliens listed at MS 602-1D(2) must also meet one of the alien eligibility requirements listed below to be entitled to receive SNAP, if otherwise eligible.


a. A person who has lived in the U.S. as a qualified alien for five years. (See FS MS 602-1D (7)(d) for more information about adding individuals once they've met the five year waiting period.)

b. A child under 18 years of age.

c. A qualified alien who is disabled as defined at FS MS 600-2.

d. A refugee.

e. An immigrant who was granted status as an asylee, a deportee, or a Cuban/Haitian entrant.

f. An Amerasian who was granted immigrant status under 584 of Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Program Appropriations Act.

g. A lawful permanent resident who has accumulated 40 qualifying quarters under Social Security.  A qualifying quarter earned after January 1, 1997 does not count toward this 40-quarter requirement if the alien earning the quarter received SNAP, Medicaid, or TANF  assistance during the quarter.  Qualifying quarters include those quarters earned by a parent (natural, adoptive or step) of an alien while the alien was a child under 18 and living with his parent. Qualifying quarters include those quarters earned by a spouse during their marriage, if the alien remains married to the spouse or the spouse is deceased.

h. Qualified aliens who are honorably discharged U.S. military veterans, active-duty military, and their spouses (including a surviving spouse who has not remarried), and unmarried dependent children (including dependent stepchildren);



Hmong and other Highland Lao tribal people who fought on behalf of the Armed Forces of the United States during the Vietnam conflict and who have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. as permanent residents are considered veterans exempt from the five-year waiting period under this paragraph.


i. Active duty military personnel, other than active duty for training (and spouse and unmarried dependent children); the alien spouse and unmarried dependent children of a U.S. citizen who is on active duty.

j. Victim of trafficking with a valid certification letter from the Office of Refugee Resettlement or form I-797a indicating a Class T-1 Visa, or family member of victim with form I-797a indicating a Class T-2, T-3, T-4, or T-5 Visa.

k. Special immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan admitted under section 101 (a) (27) of the INA.


5. Non-Qualified Aliens


Non-qualified aliens include aliens who are permanently residing in the U.S. under color of law, non-immigrants, and illegal aliens. An alien who is not a "qualified alien" is not eligible for SNAP


a. Permanently Residing Under Color of Law (PRUCOL)


Aliens in this category are legal permanent residents of the U.S. even though they did not go through the process of applying for and being admitted for permanent residence.  This group includes non-qualified aliens residing in the U.S. with the knowledge and permission of the USCIS whose departure the USCIS does not contemplate enforcing.


 b. Non-Immigrants


Some aliens may be lawfully admitted but only for a temporary or specified time (visitors, tourists, students, diplomats, crewmen on shore leave, temporary workers, members of the foreign press, etc.).  These aliens are not eligible for SNAP because of the temporary nature of their admission status.  



Non-immigrant aliens can be identified by the following USCIS documentation: Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record; Form I-185, Canadian Border Crossing Card; Form I-186, Mexican Border Crossing Card; Form SW-434, Mexican Border Visitor’s Permit; and Form I-95A, Crewman’s Landing Permit.



Aliens born in the Marshall Islands, Western Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau are the most common types of non-immigrants.  These people can travel freely between the islands and the U.S., but are considered non-qualified aliens and are not eligible to receive benefits.  For these people to receive benefits, they must take action to become a qualified alien.


c. Illegal Aliens


Non-qualified aliens include illegal aliens.  These aliens either were never legally admitted to the United States for any period of time, or were admitted for a limited period of time and did not leave the U.S. when that time expired.  


6. Documentation of United States Citizenship and Eligible Alien Status


U.S. citizenship is verified only when questionable.  Every household must declare that all household members have U.S. citizenship or satisfactory immigration status.  The adult household member or authorized representative fulfills this condition of eligibility by signing the application (Gen 50c) or recertification application (GEN 72).


a. Verification of U.S. Citizenship Is Not Required For:

•   A current Supplemental Security Income (SSI Supplemental Security Income) recipient;

•   A current Medicare recipient;

•   An individual receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits;

•   Children in state foster care or Title IV-E adoption assistance; or

•   A newborn that is eligible for and receives Medicaid in their birth month.  This includes a newborn whose mother is a non-qualified alien and is determined eligible under Emergency Treatment for Aliens.  These newborns are considered to have provided satisfactory documentation of citizenship and identity, and no further documentation will be necessary in the future.


b. Acceptable Documentation


Sources of verification include birth certificates, certificates of citizenship or naturalization provided by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. passports, and official identification cards showing U.S. citizenship.  U.S. National status may be verified with a U.S.. passport stamped ”U.S. National.”


c. Proof of Qualified Alien Status


An alien must provide proof of his or her qualified alien status.   The following documents are acceptable for determining alien status and whether the alien is subject to the five-year waiting period:


 Certain USCIS documents can be viewed online at http://www.ncosc.net/Foreign_Nationals/Travel_Doc_Identification.pdf.





Legal Permanent Resident

  • I-551 (referred to as green card), or

  • I-94 annotated with a temporary I-551 stamp (for recent arrivals or aliens who have applied for a replacement I-551)


  • I-94 stamped showing admission under

  • section 207 of the INA and date of entry to the U.S., or

  • I-688B annotated 274a.12(a)(3), or

  • I-766 annotated A3, or,

  • I-571


(Refugees usually adjust to LPR status after 12 months in the U.S., However, they are still considered refugee for eligibility purposes when they have a I-551 with a code of RE-6, RE-7, RE-8, or RE-9)

Special Immigrants

  • I-94 or passport stamped with an "S" category


  • I-94 stamped showing grant of asylum under section 208 and date of entry; or

  • A grant letter from the Asylum Office of the USCIS; or

  • I-688B annotated 274a.12(a)(5); or

  • I-766 annotated A5; or

  • Court order of an immigration judge showing asylum granted under section 208.


  • I-94 annotated with stamp showing grant of parole under 212(d)(5) and a date showing granting of parole for at least 1 year.

Deportation Withheld

  • Order of an immigration judge showing deportation withheld under section 243(h) and date of grant; or

  • I-688B annotated 274a.12(a)(10); or

  • I-766 annotated A10.

Conditional Entrant

  • I-94 with stamp showing admission under 203(a)(7), refugee-conditional entry, or

  • I-688B annotated 274a.12(a)(3)

  • I-766 annotated A3

Battered Spouse or Child of U.S. Citizen or Permanent Legal Resident

  • Approved or pending I-130 or I-360 petition showing a prima facie case that he or she is protected under the Violence Against Women Act, and

  • Verification that the individual responsible for the battery or cruelty is no longer living in the household of the victim.

  • Cuban Or Haitian Entrant

  • I-94 with stamp showing parole as Cuban/Haitian Entrant under section 212(d)(5) of the INA  

  • Form I-551 with code CU6, CU7, or CH6

  • Foreign passport containing an unexpired temporary I-551 stamp with the code CU6 or CU7

Cuban Or Haitian Entrant

  • I-94 with stamp showing parole as Cuban/Haitian Entrant under section 212(d)(5) of the INA or


  • Form I-551 with code CU6, CU7, CH6 or,


  • Foreign passport containing an unexpired temporary I-551 stamp with the code CU6 or CU7

U.S.  Military Veteran, Active Duty Military

(includes spouse and unmarried dependent children under 21)

  • Green Form DD-2 marked ACTIVE, or

  • A current order showing the individual is on full-time duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard (Reserves are not considered active duty).

  • DD-214 indicating honorable discharge, or

  • Discharge papers indicating honorable discharge

Victims Of Trafficking

(includes certain eligible immediate family members holding a derivative T-Visa)

  • Letter of certification from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)  The caseworker must verify the validity of this letter and notify ORR  of the benefits for which the individual has applied by calling the toll-free trafficking verification line at 1-866-401-5510.

  • Form I-797a indicating Class T-1 Visa.

  • Form I-797a indicating T-2 (spouse), T-3 (child), T-4 (parent) or T-5 (unmarried sibling under age18 years on the date such alien’s T visa application was filed), known as a Derivative Visa.



T status is valid for 3 years from date of approval and is not renewable. However, the individual may adjust to lawful permanent resident status within the 90-day period immediately preceding the expiration of T status.

American Indian Born In Canada

  • Birth or baptismal certificate issued on a reservation;

  • Tribal records;

  • Letter from the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs, or

  • School records




If an applicant presents a receipt indicating that he or she has applied to USCIS  for a replacement document for one of the documents identified above, contact the USCIS  to verify status by filing a G-845 with the local USCIS  district office and attach a copy of the receipt.



d. Systematic Alien Verification For Entitlements (SAVE) Program


The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) is a program run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services which provides both an online system and a paper-based process to verify the immigration status of aliens who apply for SNAP.


The Verification Information System (VIS) is the online verification system.  The paper-based process makes use of the G-845, Document Verification Request.


The documents provided by each alien as verification of immigration status must be authenticated by using the SAVE  program.  The VIS system will identify whether or not the alien has been lawfully admitted into the U.S.   However, it may not provide enough information to determine whether or not the individual is a "qualified alien."  The date of entry indicated on the VIS database may not accurately reflect the date an immigrant physically arrived in the U.S.


Secondary verification may be needed if no records are found or if there are discrepancies between the alien’s documents and VIS.  Written consent from the household is required to contact USCIS  to obtain documentation or information to verify the alien's status.  


If the alien does not want the caseworker to contact USCIS, the household can withdraw its application or participate without that member.


Written consent is not required to:




For further guidance on alien verification, see Addendum 6.


Verification of each alien’s status through the SAVE program is required whenever an application is processed for a household containing one or more alien members, and whenever an alien is added to a household.  All such contacts must be clearly documented in the case record.  


See Administrative Procedures Manual Section 105-14 for instructions on how to use the SAVE  program.


7. Case Processing for Households with Eligible Aliens


a. Household Provides Documentation of Alien Status


An alien that provides documentation verifying eligible alien status, if otherwise eligible, can be issued benefits.

Validate the USCIS documents through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE).  Refer to Administrative Procedures Manual section 105-14.  Process the application if the SAVE inquiry is not completed by the 30th day from the application date.  The person's eligibility on this factor is assumed until the SAVE process proves otherwise.  If documents are being validated through SAVE, record the Verification Number in the case file.


b. Documentation Not Provided With Application or at Interview


A household member whose U.S. citizenship is questionable or who has not provided documentation of alien status is not eligible until citizenship/alien status is verified.


Pend the application and send a notice to the household giving it at least ten days to provide the documentation.  If documentation verifying U.S. citizenship or qualified alien status is received during the pend period, process the application including the person as an eligible household member.


c. Documentation of Alien Status Not Provided Following the Request for Information


The person whose U.S. citizenship remains questionable or alien status is unverified at the end of the pend period shall be treated as an excluded member.  See MS 605-2B.  If the verification is later received, add the person into the household following the policy at MS 604-3G.


When a household indicates inability or unwillingness to provide documentation for any household member, that member is considered an excluded household member.  

When the only member of an applicant household indicates inability or unwillingness to provide documentation of his or her own alien status or questionable U.S. citizenship, he or she is ineligible and the application is denied.


d. Adding Individuals at the End of the Five-Year Waiting Period


Once an individual has met the five-year waiting period requirements, they are added to the case using policy for adding a new household member in FS MS 604-3G.




An individual who applies for assistance is not eligible until they have met all eligibility requirements, including the five-year waiting period.



Maria submitted an application for benefits on May 21, 2011.  She has two children who were born in the United States.  She entered the country on June 2, 2006.  She is not eligible for benefits until she has met the five-year waiting period.  The application is approved.  May benefits are for the two children only with Maria coded as an ineligible alien.  Maria meets the five-year waiting period as of June 2, 2011, but because FS benefits cannot be prorated in the 2nd month, Maria is added to the case effective July 1, 2011.





Once a person reports they have met the five-year waiting period, the person is added to the case the first of the following month. The report can be received from the person or at recertification.



Bruce Lee and his family applied for assistance on January 12, 2010.  Bruce entered the United States on May 7, 2006 and is a lawful permanent resident.  The rest of his family members are U.S. Citizens.  The application was approved and his family has been receiving assistance since January 12, 2010.  The family turns in a GEN 72 on May 15, 2011 for the next review period.  The review is approved and Bruce is added to the case effective June 1, 2011 because he has met the five-year waiting period requirement. 


8. Citizenship for Certain Children Born Outside the United States


   Effective February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows a child born outside of the United States to acquire citizenship of the United States automatically when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:


a. At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization;

b. The child is under the age of eighteen years; and

c. The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the United States citizen parent, pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.



Because proof of citizenship is not automatically issued to eligible children, parents must provide proof of the child’s relationship (such as a birth certificate) to their U.S. citizen parent and proof that the child is lawfully admitted into the U.S. Parents of a foreign born child who meet the conditions of the new law should be encouraged to apply for a certificate of citizenship for their child with the USCIS and/or for a passport for their child with the Department of State.



9.  Foreign Born Children Adopted By United States Citizens


Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a foreign born child under age eighteen, who has been legally adopted by at least one U.S. citizen parent, automatically becomes a U.S. citizen when the legal adoption is finalized. Most of the time,  a parent will be able to verify the U.S. citizenship of their child by producing a U.S. birth certificate.


Effective January 1, 2004, a new entrant (IR-3) program was implemented, which focuses on newly entering orphans with full and final adoptions abroad. Under this new program, these children will automatically receive a Certificate of Citizenship within 45 days of entry into the U.S.




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