The Application Process For TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SCHIP. Chapter 5. Eligibility Determination Policies and VerIfication Procedures: Special Issues for Immigrants


PRWORA's restrictions on legal immigrant eligibility required agencies to weave new eligibility provisions into an already complicated array of eligibility rules and verification procedures. When first implemented, the new non-citizen eligibility rules raised many questions about exactly how and to whom the new provisions should be applied, prompting considerable confusion among non-citizens and eligibility workers alike. It is beyond the scope of this study to assess the nature and magnitude of these early implementation issues. The study site visits do, however, provide an opportunity to observe how some welfare agencies and eligibility staff have dealt with the complexity of these rules after having had several years to incorporate them into daily operations. The visits also provided information about whether eligibility determination rules and verification procedures that are not specific to immigration status present an additional layer of complexity for non-citizen applicants.

This chapter first describes approaches public agencies use to determine non-citizen eligibility, including exemptions to the five-year bars on legal immigrant eligibility, and then considers other types of eligibility rules and verification practices which study respondents identified as particularly challenging for immigrant applicants.

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