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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Section 421 - Federal Attribution of Sponsor’s Income and Resources to Noncitizen and Section 423 - Requirements for Sponsor’s Affidavit of Support

Last Published: 04/08/2014

Section 421 - Federal Attribution of Sponsor’s Income and Resources to Noncitizen and Section 423 - Requirements for Sponsor’s Affidavit of Support

Q. To which noncitizens does deeming apply?

A. Deeming applies to all noncitizens sponsored by individuals. Very few sponsored noncitizens will be eligible for food stamps. Refugees, asylees, and deportees do not need to be sponsored. Deeming does not apply to noncitizens sponsored by groups. Deeming ends when a noncitizen has 40 quarters. Therefore, deeming will apply for food stamp purposes only to those who qualify under the military service provision.

Q. Are battered noncitizens exempt from the deeming provisions?

A. If the battered noncitizen lives in the same household as the batterer, there is no exemption. If the battered noncitizen is not living in the same household, battered noncitizens and noncitizens whose child or parent has been battered may be exempt from the deeming provisions for a 12-month period provided that there is a substantial connection between the need for food stamps and the battery.

Q. For situations involving a sponsor’s income, if 3 years have passed and the new affidavit has not been signed, is the sponsor’s income still counted?

A. For noncitizens whose sponsors signed the old affidavit, deeming ends after 3 years. Current sponsors will not be required to sign a new affidavit. State agencies should follow the requirements of 7 CFR 273.11(j) for these noncitizens.

Q. When will the new legally binding affidavits of support be used?

A. The new affidavits of support will be required for applications for immigrant visas or for adjustments to permanent resident status filed on or after December 19, 1997. The deeming and other sponsored noncitizen provisions contained in the PRWORA must be used for these noncitizens.

Q. Does Section 421 of the PRWORA (deeming of a sponsor’s income) replace or make obsolete all of section 5(i) of the Food Stamp Act?

A. The provisions in section 5(i) apply to sponsored noncitizens whose sponsor signed the old affidavit of support. The new deeming provisions apply to immigrants whose sponsors have signed the new affidavit of support form. Therefore, with two or three possible exceptions, section 5(i) will be obsolete for noncitizens signing the new affidavit of support. The provisions that we are considering carrying over to the new provisions are the ones that provide that the spouse of the sponsor must be living with the sponsor before his or her income and resources are deemed, the requirement for the noncitizen to provide information, and the provision that deeming would not apply if the sponsor is included in the same food stamp household as the sponsored noncitizen. We will either address these three issues in the regulations or allow State flexibility in these areas. In the meantime, State agencies should not deem the income or resources of the spouse of the sponsor unless the spouse is living with the sponsor.

What if a sponsor or the required documents cannot be located?

A. State agencies should follow the requirements of 7 CFR 273.11(j)(7) of the regulations for action to be taken pending receipt of information needed to determine the income and resources of the sponsor and the sponsor’s spouse. The noncitizen is ineligible until all necessary facts are obtained, and the eligibility of any remaining household members is determined by considering the income and resources of the ineligible noncitizen, excluding the deemed income and resources of the noncitizen’s sponsor and sponsor’s spouse. The Department of Justice is developing a computer database that will contain the names of the sponsored noncitizens and the names and addresses of their sponsors. The data will be made accessible to State agencies.

Q. If a sponsor is receiving public assistance or SSI, should the assistance be counted as available to the sponsored noncitizen?

A. Yes.

Q. Is there a time limit during which sponsored indigent noncitizens can be exempted from the full deeming provisions?

A. Yes. If the State agency determines that a sponsored noncitizen would, in the absence of the assistance provided by the agency, be unable to obtain food and shelter, taking into account the noncitizen’s own income, plus any cash, food, housing, or other assistance provided by other individuals, including the sponsor, the amount deemed shall be the amount actually provided for a period beginning on the date of such determination and ending 12 months after such date. The State agency must notify the Attorney General of each such determination, including the names of the sponsor and the sponsored noncitizen involved.

Q. Do the States have to prepare any reports on sponsored aliens?

A. Yes. State agencies have to report identifying information and the number of months aliens have received benefits for those aliens that they have determined to be indigent, and they have to report on any court orders against sponsors for repayment of food stamps benefits issued to sponsored aliens. The time frame for reporting this information has not yet been established.

Q. Section 423(e) of the welfare reform law provides that upon notification that a sponsored alien has received any benefit under any means-tested public benefit program, the appropriate agency shall request reimbursement by the sponsor in the amount of such assistance. Does the Food Stamp Program qualify as a means-tested public benefit program for purposes of this provision?

A. Yes.

Q. Instead of certifying sponsored aliens and then trying to collect from the sponsor, can the State agency just determine that the aliens are not eligible to begin with?

A. No. If sponsored aliens meet the qualified criteria and the specific food stamp criteria, they must be certified and the State agency must then request repayment from the sponsors.

Q. How should requests for reimbursement be handled?

A. We will either address this in regulations or allow States flexibility in this area. In the meantime, they should be handled as household-caused error claims, but the sponsor should be billed. States should be able to get the address of the sponsor from an INS computer system.