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Can Illegal Immigrants Get Food Stamps? And Other Immigration and Food Stamps Questions

Can Illegal Immigrants Get Food Stamps? And Other Immigration and Food Stamps Questions

Can illegal immigrants get food stamps? What about legal immigrants? Can refugees get food stamps? If you or your family need help now, it can be hard to decipher how to navigate these questions and where to find the answers. Don’t worry. Low Income Relief is here to help!

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Can illegal immigrants get food stamps?

According to this USDA webpage last updated in 2013, there are only a few situations in which undocumented immigrants may receive SNAP benefits.

The following non-citizens are eligible with no waiting period:

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  • Qualified children under 18 years old
  • Refugees admitted under section 207 of INA (includes victims of severe forms of trafficking)
  • Victims of Trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000
  • Asylees under Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • Deportation withheld under 243(h) or 241(b)(3) of INA
  • Amerasian immigrants under 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act
  • Cuban or Haitian entrants as defined in 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980
  • Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants under Section 101(a)(27) of the INA
  • Certain American Indians born abroad
  • Members of Hmong or Highland Laotian tribes, legally living in the U.S., that helped the U.S. military during the Vietnam era, and their spouses or surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children
  • Elderly individuals born on or before August 22nd, 1931 and who lawfully resided in the U.S. on August 22nd, 1996
  • Lawful Permanent Residents in the U.S. who are receiving government payments for disability or blindness
  • Lawful Permanent Residents with a military connection (veteran, on active duty, or spouse or child of a veteran or active duty service member)
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) who have earned, or can be credited with, 40 quarters of work, or
  • Is in one of the following groups who has been in qualified status for 5 years:
    • Paroled for at least one year under section 212(d)(5) of INA
    • Granted conditional entry under 203(a)(7) of INA in effect prior to April 1, 1980
    • Battered spouse, child or parent with a petition pending under 204(a)(1)(A) or (B) or 244(a)(3) of INA

If you do not belong to one of these highly specific groups, it is unlikely that you will be able to receive an EBT card through the SNAP program as an undocumented immigrant.

Can legal immigrants get food stamps?

Before addressing whether documented immigrants can receive food stamps, please make sure that you are eligible for an EBT card in the first place. You can read this article to learn about the requirements more in depth, but typically you will need to meet the federal poverty level and general work requirements.

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Each state will judge your case differently and will have varying guidelines or acceptance rates. Because of this, it can’t be said for sure whether you will be eligible or considered for an EBT card.

If you meet the general requirements for receiving SNAP benefits, you may also have to have been a LPR (Legal Permanent Resident) with a green card for at least 5 years before you qualify for food stamps as a documented, legal immigrant.

marisol benitez for
By Unsplash user Marisol Benitez.

Can refugees get food stamps?

Like legal, documented immigrants, you’ll want to make sure that you as a refugee meet the federal poverty level and general work requirements. Read this article to learn about the requirements more in depth.

As outlined in the section about undocumented immigrants, you may qualify as a refugee under these circumstances:

  • Refugees admitted under section 207 of INA (includes victims of severe forms of trafficking)
  • Victims of Trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000
  • Asylees under Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • Deportation withheld under 243(h) or 241(b)(3) of INA
  • Amerasian immigrants under 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act
  • Cuban or Haitian entrants as defined in 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980
  • Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants under Section 101(a)(27) of the INA
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) who have earned, or can be credited with, 40 quarters of work, OR is in one of the following groups who has been in qualified status for 5 years:
  • Paroled for at least one year under section 212(d)(5) of INA
  • Granted conditional entry under 203(a)(7) of INA in effect prior to April 1, 1980
  • Battered spouse, child or parent with a petition pending under 204(a)(1)(A) or (B) or 244(a)(3) of INA

You can find your local SNAP office here to ask more questions about eligibility.

I have more questions about finding help!

Don’t worry, we have a few articles you may be interested in.

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As a third-year English major with years of researching and writing experience, Chloe uses her experience and her passion for helping others to help you get the financial aid you deserve.