UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES MAY A NON-CITIZEN BE ELIGIBLE FOR SSI?

A non-citizen (also called an "alien" for immigration purposes) may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if he or she meets the requirements of the laws for non–citizens that went into effect on August 22, 1996. In general, beginning August 22, 1996, most non-citizens must meet two requirements to be potentially eligible for SSI:

    small blue and black arrowbe in a qualified alien category; and

    small blue and black arrowmeet a condition that allows qualified aliens to get SSI.

IMPORTANT: A non-citizen must also meet all of the other rules for SSI eligibility, including the limits on income and resources, etc.
spotlight
 

WHO IS A QUALIFIED ALIEN?

There are seven categories of qualified aliens. You are a qualified alien if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says you are in one of these categories:

  1. blank spacer Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR) in the U.S., which includes"Amerasian immigrant" as defined in P.L. 100-202, with a class of admission AM-1 through AM-8;
  2. blank spacerGranted conditional entry under Section 203(a)(7) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as in effect before April 1, 1980;
  3. blank spacerParoled into the U.S. under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA for a period of at least one year;
  4. blank spacerRefugee admitted to the U.S. under Section 207 of the INA;
  5. blank spacerGranted asylum under Section 208 of the INA;
  6. blank spacerDeportation is being withheld under Section 243(h) of the INA, as in effect before April 1, 1997; or removal is being withheld under Section 241(b)(3) of the INA;
  7. A blank spacer"Cuban and Haitian entrant" as defined in Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 or in a status that is to be treated as a "Cuban/ Haitian entrant" for SSI purposes.

In addition, you can be a “deemed qualified alien” if, under certain circumstances, you, your child or parent were subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by a family member while in the United States.

UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS MAY A "QUALIFIED ALIEN" BE ELIGIBLE FOR SSI BENEFITS?

If you are in one of the seven "qualified alien" categories listed above, you may be eligible for SSI if you also meet one of the following conditions:

  1. You were receiving SSI and lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996.
  2. You are LAPR with 40 qualifying quarters of work.
    • small blue and black arrow Work done by your spouse or parent may also count toward the 40 quarters of work, but only for getting SSI.

      small blue and black arrowQuarters of work earned after December 31, 1996, cannot be counted if you, your spouse, or parent who worked, received certain benefits from the United States government, based on limited income and resources during that period.

    IMPORTANT: If you entered the United States on or after August 22, 1996, then you may not be eligible for SSI for the first five years as an LAPR even if you have 40 qualifying quarters of coverage.
  3. You are currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or you are an honorably discharged veteran and your discharge is not because you are an alien. This condition may also apply if you are the spouse, widow(er), or dependent child of certain U.S. military personnel.
  4. You were lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996 and you are blind or disabled.
  5. You may receive SSI for a maximum of seven years from the date DHS granted you immigration status in one of the following categories, and the status was granted within seven years of filing for SSI:

    small blue and black arrowRefugee under Section 207 of the INA;

    small blue and black arrowAsylee under Section 208 of the INA;

    small blue and black arrowAlien whose deportation was withheld under Section 243(h) of the INA or whose removal is withheld under Section 241(b)(3) of the INA;

    small blue and black arrow"Cuban or Haitian entrant" under Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 or in a status that is to be treated as a "Cuban/ Haitian entrant" for SSI purposes; or

    small blue and black arrow"Amerasian immigrant" pursuant to P.L. 100-202, with a class of admission of AM-1 through AM-8.

NOTE

For purposes of SSI eligibility, individuals are not considered qualified aliens if they were admitted to the U.S. under the provisions of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.  Their eligibility is subject to the proper certification in such status by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and possession of a valid “T” non-immigrant visa. Once the alien obtains proper certification and is in possession of a T non-immigrant visa, he or she becomes potentially eligible for SSI.

 

EXEMPTION
FROM THE AUGUST 22, 1996 LAWS FOR CERTAIN NON-CITIZEN INDIANS

Certain categories of non–citizens may be eligible for SSI and are not subject to the August 26, 1996 law. These categories include:

    small blue and black arrowAmerican Indians born in Canada who were admitted to the U.S. under Section 289 of the Immigration and Nationality Act; or

    small blue and black arrownon–citizen members of a federally recognized Indian tribe under Section 4(e) of the Indian Self–Determination and Education Assistance Act.

ADDITIONAL ELIGIBLE ALIEN CATEGORIES

Victims of Severe Forms of Human trafficking:  You may be eligible for SSI under certain circumstances if the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/) and the Department of Homeland Security determines that you meet the requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

Special eligibility for nationals of Iraq or Afghanistan: If you are an Iraqi or Afghan national who was admitted to the U.S. as a special immigrant, you may qualify for seven years of SSI benefits if you served as a translator/interpreter for the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan or if you worked for the U.S. government in Iraq.

WE NEED PROOF OF YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS

If you apply for SSI benefits, you must give us proof of your immigration status, such as a current DHS admission/departure Form I-94, Form I-551 or an order from an immigration judge showing withholding of removal or granting asylum.

If you have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, you may also need to give us proof of military service such as U.S. military discharge papers (DD Form 214) showing an honorable discharge.

Your local Social Security office can tell you what other types of evidence you can submit to prove your alien status.

WHAT IF YOU HAVE A SPONSOR?

When you entered the U.S., you may have had someone sign an agreement with DHS to provide support for you. We call this agreement an affidavit of support, and we call the person who signs it your sponsor. If you have a sponsor, we generally will count his or her (and his or her spouse's) income and resources as your income and resources. Your local Social Security office can give you more information about these rules and how they apply in your case.

BECOMING A U.S. CITIZEN

You can get more information about becoming a U.S. citizen by writing or visiting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website at www.uscis.gov or calling 1-800-870-3676 to get an application package for naturalization (DHS Form N-400).


THIS INFORMATION IS GENERAL.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL 1–800–772–1213 (TTY 1–800–325–0778),
VISIT OUR WEBSITE (www.socialsecurity.gov) ON THE INTERNET,
OR CONTACT YOUR LOCAL SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE.