The following is a model letter on the public charge issue to be sent
to commissioners in all States. All States have now been sent copies
of the letter.
"Commissioners" of Child Nutrition Program State agencies
- All States
Today, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of the Department
of Justice published a proposed regulation and INS field guidance, which
will be implemented immediately, on "public charge". The regulation
and guidance state which benefits non-citizens may receive without negative
immigration consequences. The State Department is issuing to its consulates
overseas comparable policy and guidance to be used in issuing visas. This
is to advise you that the INS regulation and field guidance state that
participation in the Child Nutrition Programs will not result in
a determination of public charge.
Recent immigration and welfare reform laws have generated considerable
confusion about whether the receipt of Federal, State, or local public
benefits for which an alien may be eligible renders him or her a "public
charge" under the immigration statutes governing admissibility, adjustment
of status, and deportation. We believe that the INS proposed rule and
field guidance will allay concerns among the nations immigrant communities
what public benefits will be considered for "public charge"
The INS regulation and field guidance define "public charge"
to mean an alien who has become or is likely to become primarily dependent
on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either receiving
public cash assistance for income maintenance, or by being institutionalized
for long-term care at government expense. Income maintenance programs
that will be considered for public charge purposes include Supplemental
Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, general assistance
programs for income maintenance purposes, and programs (including Medicaid)
supporting aliens who reside in an institution for long-term care.
Collectively, the INS regulation and field guidance specifically state
that receipt of benefits under FNS Programs, including the Special Supplemental
Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC), Food
Stamps, and other nutrition programs such as School Lunch and School Breakfast
Programs, and other supplementary and emergency food assistance programs,
will not result in an individual being considered a public charge.
Participants in the Child Nutrition Programs are not required to repay
or terminate program benefits in order to adjust immigration status. If
children or family members born in the U.S. participate in the Child Nutrition
Programs, it will not affect the immigration status of other family members.
In addition, there is no public charge test for naturalization; therefore,
participation in the Child Nutrition Programs will not affect application
Enclosed is a copy of a fact sheet that INS has prepared. Please note
that receipt of benefits under the Medicaid Program (except in the case
of institutionalization for long-term care primarily at government expense)
or the Childrens Health Insurance Program will not be considered
in making a public charge determination.
Please communicate this information as soon as possible to your staff
that administer the Child Nutrition Programs. While we are not aware of
any significant problems with the implementation of the recent immigration
and welfare reform legislation in the Child Nutrition Programs, we believe
it to be in the best interest of program beneficiaries that State administering
agencies be prepared to deal with questions should they arise. Questions
or concerns that may arise regarding this issue should be raised to the
appropriate staff in the FNS regional office.
Food and Nutrition Service
cc: CNP State agencies
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