Cover Memo for Regions To Use To Forward Guidance
to State Directors
This letter, and the accompanying guidance, was sent to
all State food stamp directors shortly after October
Over the next year, the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002
(Public Law 107-171), commonly referred to as the 2002 Farm Bill, restores
food stamp eligibility to many legal immigrants who lost eligibility under
the 1996 Welfare Reform legislation. While a small number of disabled
aliens have already had their eligibility restored, the majority of legal
immigrants will be affected on April 1, 2003, when qualified aliens who
have been in the country for five years regain eligibility. The Food and
Nutrition Service (FNS) is providing the enclosed supplementary
implementing guidance early so that State agencies have sufficient
lead-time for notifying households of the new law, training workers, and
making the necessary computer adjustments.
The changes in section 4401 of the 2002 Farm Bill incrementally
reinstate eligibility for three groups of qualified aliens who meet the
programís other requirements and who: 1) are receiving disability
benefits for their condition (effective October 1, 2002); 2) are under the
age of 18 regardless of date of entry into the country (effective October
1, 2003); or 3) have lived in the United States for five years within a
qualified status (effective April 1, 2003). Together these changes build
on this Administrationís commitment to ensure that all eligible
low-income individuals and families have access to the nutritional
assistance they need through the Food Stamp Program.
We strongly encourage State agencies to begin making the necessary
plans for these restorations. In addition, we encourage State agencies to
work with the advocate community on strategies, such as public service
announcements, to inform low-income families and individuals about the new
changes in food stamp eligibility affecting immigrants.
We recognize that implementing these changes poses particular
challenges during a time when State and local resources are strained.
Accordingly, the enclosed guidance provides for administrative flexibility
and extensive relief on quality control. We believe that it is essential
to commence actively preparing for the April 1 date now, and urge you to
contact us if we can be of assistance.
Enclosure: Guidance for State Agencies in
Implementing Immigrant Provisions