Individuals who live in the U.S. but are not citizens are aliens. Coverage for Special Assistance is based on their immigration status with USCIS and the date they are admitted by USCIS under that status. A non-qualified alien is not eligible for Special Assistance.
This section defines qualified aliens and non-qualified aliens, when they are eligible for Special Assistance based on the date admitted, USCIS documentation of alien status, and DSS procedures to establish status.
B. Qualified Aliens
The two main categories of immigrants established by USCIS that are considered qualified aliens are described in III.B.1. and 2., below. They each have different disqualification periods based on the immigrant’s status at the time he was admitted to the U.S. by USCIS.
The qualified aliens described below are the only aliens eligible for Special Assistance. (This list is all-inclusive). Refer to SA-3240 Figure 4 for verification documents.
An LPR is an alien who is legally admitted to the U.S. by the USCIS to live and work on a permanent basis. An LPR is often referred to as a “resident alien.” USCIS issues each LPR an I-551. This is known as a “green card”, even though it is not green. Aliens recently admitted to the U.S. as a LPR, or who have applied for a replacement I-551 may only have the I-94 with a temporary I-551 stamp.
b. Five Year Disqualification Period of LPRs
LPRs admitted to the U.S. on or after August 1, 1996, are not eligible for Special Assistance for 5 years from the date they are admitted to the U.S. as an LPR. This is a mandatory 5-year disqualification period. After the 5-year disqualification period has expired, LPRs meet immigration eligibility requirements for Special Assistance. Reverify their status with USCIS.
(1) For example, an immigrant admitted as an LPR by INS in January 2004 is ineligible for SA until January 2009.
(2) The 5-year disqualification period does NOT apply to an LPR:
(a) Admitted to the U.S. as an LPR prior to August 1, 1996, or
(b) Who adjusts his/her status to U.S. citizen during the 5 year disqualification period, or
(c) Who is an honorably discharged U.S. veteran or active duty military or his/her spouse and dependent child under 21, or
(d) Originally admitted by USCIS to the U.S. under a political designation who has adjusted to LPR status within the first 5 years. Refer to III.B.2. below, or
(e) An American Indian born in Canada to whom the provisions of section 289 of the INA apply, or who is a member of an Indian tribe as defined in section 4(e) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
Aliens can be legally admitted to the U.S. by the USCIS as a type of refugee for many different political reasons. For example, an individual may be admitted to the U.S. because he is fleeing persecution in his own country, or USCIS determines it is in the public interest. Aliens admitted by the USCIS under a specific section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) identified below are considered qualified aliens (This list is all inclusive):
(1) A refugee admitted under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), or
(2) An asylee admitted under section 208 of the INA, or
(3) A refugee whose deportation is withheld under section 243(h) of the INA, or
(4) An alien paroled under section 212(d)(5) of the INA for at least 1 year, or
(5) An alien granted conditional entry under section 203(a)(7) of the INA in effect prior to April 1, 1980, or
(6) An alien granted status as a Cuban/Haitian entrant as defined in section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980, or
(7) An Amerasian immigrant admitted pursuant to Section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1988.
b. Seven Year Limitation Period for Aliens Admitted Under a Political designation
(1) Aliens admitted to the U.S. under one of the political designations listed above are potentially eligible for Special Assistance for 7 years from the date they are admitted to the U.S. under that status. This is a 7-year period of potential Special Assistance. (This is just the opposite of aliens admitted, as LPR's who are ineligible for SA for the first 5 years.) After the 7-year period has expired, the alien is ineligible for SA if his status remains the same. If the alien has adjusted his status after the 7-year period, determine eligibility for these individuals under their current status.
(2) Political admissions can adjust their status to LPR within the 7-year period. However, he remains potentially eligible for SA for 7 years from the date he was admitted as a refugee/asylee, etc. For example, an individual is admitted as refugee in January 2004. He adjusts his status to LPR in 2005. Regardless, he remains potentially eligible for SA based on being admitted as a refugee/asylee through December 31, 2010.
(3) The 7-year period of eligibility does not apply to honorably discharged U.S. veteran or active duty military and their spouse or dependent child under 21.
C. Procedures to Verify and Document Qualified Alien Status
Verification of qualified alien status is a two-step process. First, verify the date the alien was admitted to the U.S. and the status under which the SA applicant was admitted. Secondly, based on the date of admission determine whether the 5 year disqualification period or 7 year optional eligibility period applies.
1. Request the alien's original USCIS documents:
a. If the documents verify that the SA applicant is a qualified alien as defined above, continue with these procedures. Document the status under which the SA applicant was admitted.
b. If the applicant is not a "qualified alien," he is not eligible for SA. The application must be denied.
c. If the SA applicant's status cannot be verified because the documents are not readily available or are incomplete, refer the applicant to USCIS.
2. Write the applicant's current immigration status on the SA application. Explain that by signing an SA application, the applicant is certifying his/her immigration status.
3. Document the date the applicant was admitted to the U.S.
4. Determine whether the 5-year disqualification period OR the 7-year period of potential SA eligibility applies:
a. If the applicant's current status is LPR, determine whether the 5-year disqualification period applies based on the SA applicant's admission date.
Note: This does not apply to LPR's who were admitted as LPR's prior to August 1, 1996, or veterans/active duty military and spouse/unmarried dependents, or LPRs originally admitted under a political designation, as described in this procedure.
b. If the applicant's status is one of the political designations defined above, determine whether the 7-year period of SA eligibility applies.
c. If the applicant's current status is LPR, but he/she claims he was a political admission within the past 7 years, he remains potentially eligible for 7 years from the date he was admitted. This is verified when the I-551 indicates a code of RE-6, RE-7, RE-8, or RE-9.
d. Document the date the 5-year disqualification period or 7-year eligibility period expires at each application and redetermination. The SA case should be flagged as to when the 5-year disqualification period or 7-year eligibility expires.
5. Verify the authenticity of the alien document and the date of admission using the web-based Systematic Alienage Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Verification Information System (VIS). The SAVE instructions are located in the EIS Manual, Section EIS-1108. For secondary verifications, refer to the G-845 form.
6. File a copy of the USCIS documentation in the applicant's record.
7. Reverify alien status when the alien status is subject to change.
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.