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.
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