Overview of Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs

Last revised APRIL 2024

This table provides an overview of immigrant eligibility for the major federal public assistance programs. (Download it by clicking on the PDF icon at right.) The programs listed in the table are the following:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Emergency Medicaid (includes labor and delivery)
  • Full-Scope Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Medicare “Premium-Free” Part A (hospitalization) (Eligibility based on work history.)
  • Premium “Buy-in” Medicare
  • HUD Public Housing and Section 8 Programs
  • Title XX Block Grants
  • Social Security
  • Other Federal Public Benefits Subject to Welfare Law’s Restrictions
  • Benefits Exempt from Welfare Law’s Restrictions

Some states provide assistance to immigrants who are not eligible for federally funded services.

Key terms used in the table include the following:

“Qualified” immigrants are: (1) lawful permanent residents (LPRs); (2) refugees, asylees, persons granted withholding of de­portation/removal, conditional entry (in effect prior to Apr. 1, 1980), or paroled into the U.S. for at least one year; (3) Cu­ban/Haitian entrants (as defined in 45 C.F.R. § 401.2); (4) battered spouses and children with a pending or approved (a) self-petition for an immigrant visa, or (b) immigrant visa filed for a spouse or child by a U.S. citizen or LPR, or (c) application for cancellation of removal/suspension of deportation, whose need for benefits has a substantial connection to the battery or cruelty (parent/child of such battered child/ spouse are also “qualified”); (5) victims of trafficking and their derivative beneficiaries who have obtained a T visa or whose ap­plication for a T visa sets forth a prima facie case. (A broader group of trafficking victims who are certified by or receive an eligibility letter from the Office of Refugee Resettlement are eligible for benefits funded or administered by federal agencies, without regard to their im­migration status); and (6) Individuals who lawfully reside in the U.S. pursuant to a Compact of Free Association (COFA).

“Not qualified” immigrants include all noncitizens who do not fall under the “qualified” immigrant categories.