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July 20, 2018

What Public Benefits are Available to Immigrants?

Today, it can be difficult to understand what public assistance is available to immigrants entering and living in the United States. Here is some guidance on benefits and resources available to immigrants that aim to promote economic, social, and civic inclusion in Massachusetts.

Depending on eligibility, it is possible that immigrants can benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) to receive a monthly benefit to buy nutritious food. Adults who are low income with Legal Permanent Resident status (LPR) are eligible for SNAP, but may need to wait five years after receiving their green card before benefitting. However, the five- year wait period is waived for LPR adults who receive disability- based benefits, LPR children under 18, LPR veterans, and LPRs who have special work history in the United States. If you are concerned about your ability to converse in English during the SNAP application process, the Department of Transitional Assistance is required to provide you with interpreters. Find out if you are eligible for SNAP benefits here.

Legal Immigrants are also eligible for various federal assistance programs as listed here. While stipulations do exist, some of these programs include Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Children’s Health Insurance Program. While generally, immigrants who are here illegally are not eligible for public benefits, there are various exception.

The Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) also offers a wide range of programs to assist immigrants with the transition into the United States. These programs range from The Citizenship for New Americans Program (which assists LPRs in becoming US citizens) to the Refugee Cash Assistance Program (which provides financial support while refugees are looking for work.) To explore a comprehensive list of programs offered by the ORI, click here.

If you have any questions or need representation in court, call the Boston Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at 617- 742- 0625 or connect with us online here. We have attorneys that speak many languages and may be able to help you get the benefits you are entitled to.