The Application Process For TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SCHIP. U.S. Citizenship/Immigration Status

01/01/2003

The integrated application typicallycovers U.S. citizenship in the first section of the application. The way in which an application solicits citizenship and immigration status of individuals in the household can allay or exacerbate any confusion, misgivings or fears that immigrants may have about applying for benefits.

Applications in the study sites request citizenship and/or immigration status in different ways. The Texas integrated application does not request immigration status information of all household members and is the only integrated application form that makes several efforts to clarify that applicants need only fill in citizenship and/or immigration status information about those in their family or household who are seeking assistance. In the first part of the application, there is a section called "Important Information for Immigrants." Within this section, there is a paragraph explicitly responding to concerns of households in which citizenship and/or immigration status is mixed. The paragraph states:

You can apply for and get benefits for eligible family members, even if your family includes other members who are not eligible because of immigration status. For example, immigrant parents may apply for benefits for their U.S. citizen or qualified legal immigrant children, even though parents may not qualify for benefits.

Under the section on "Citizenship and Immigration Status," there is a specific clause describing who must report the information requested in this section that states:

You will be asked to provide information about the citizenship or immigration status for all persons (including yourself) for whom you want assistance. If any of these persons do not want to give us information about his or her citizenship or immigration status, he or she will not be eligible for benefits. Other family or household members may still get benefits if they are otherwise eligible.

Exhibit 4-2:
Key Characteristics of Integrated Applications
Study Sites, 2001)
Sites Programs Covered Length Without Instructions* SSN Citizenship/Immigration Status Language Access Will Not Share Information about Non-applicants with the INS
All in HH Statement on Non-applicants All in HH Statement on Non-applicants Box Translated
Arlington, VA TANF, FSP, Medicaid 15pgs No Yes No Yes No No No
Dallas, TX TANF, FSP, Medicaid 8pgs No Yes No Yes Yes Spanish Yes
New York, NY TANF, FSP, Medicaid 10pgs No Yes No No Yes Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitian-Creole, French Korean, Yiddish No
Raleigh, NC 5 TANF, Medicaid ** No No No No No No No
Seattle, WA TANF, FSP, Medicaid 5pgs No No Yes No Yes Spanish, Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese, Cambodian, Russian, Korean*** No
Sedalia, MO TANF, FSP, Medicaid 9pgs No No Yes No No No No
**  The joint application in Raleigh has two parts — Work First Assessment and application for Work First — neither of which is filled out in advance by the applicant. The assessment is 14 pages long and completed during a one-on-one screening session. Applicants provide the eligibility worker the information needed to complete the Work First application during the eligibility interview and the worker enters it directly into the computer.
***  The integrated application in Seattle can also be obtained in any other language, but it is not pre-printed.

The distinction between requiring information on the applicant but not others living in the household who are not otherwise eligible is further reinforced under the "Household Information" section of the application, which features two separate tables — one for applicants and one for non-applicants in the household. The second table only asks for the name and relationship of that (non-applicant) person to the applicant, and does not ask about citizenship or immigration status.

Two sites (Seattle and Sedalia) use integrated applications that request citizenship information and/or immigration status on all individuals in the household, regardless of whether they are applicants or non-applicants. For example, in the section of the Missouri integrated application where applicants must list all persons who live in the household, the applicant is asked to write-in whether or not each member of the household is a U.S. citizen (Yes/No), and, if they are not a U.S. citizen, to provide that person's alien number.

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