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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Nutrition Benefits and Public Charge: Effect on Immigration Status

Last Modified: 04/11/2014

Nutrition Benefits and Public Charge: Effect on Immigration Status Getting nutrition assistance through the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) does not make an immigrant a "public charge". That is, an immigrant to the United States will not be deported, denied entry to the country, or denied permanent status because he or she receives food stamps, WIC benefits, free and reduced price school lunches or other nutrition assistance from FNS.

This clarification was part of an announcement by Vice President Al Gore on May 25, 1999, about new USCIS policy, which is effective immediately.

USCIS public charge policy is consistent with policy issued by the FNS for the WIC Program in WIC Policy Memorandum #98-7, dated March 19, 1998, "Impact of Participation in the WIC Program on Alien Status". The WIC policy issued in 1998 was developed based on agreements reached with the USCIS and the State Department. Therefore, the USCIS policy on public charge, and that issued by the State Department to its consulates overseas, merely restates and reinforces the agreement previously reached on the impact of participation in the WIC Program on immigration status.