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USDA Reinforces Sponsor Responsibility for SNAP Benefits of Certain Legal Immigrants

Department provides states guidance to ensure  the responsibilities of immigrant sponsors are enforced consistently

Press Release
Release No.
FNS 0013.19
Contact: FNS Press Team

Washington, DC, August 23, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued guidance to states today regarding the repayment of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from the sponsors of non-citizens who participate in the program. Today’s guidance follows the issuance of President Trump’s Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens which directs relevant federal agencies to ensure compliance with the sponsor deeming and repayment obligations under current law.

The guidance, which supplements the current SNAP Guidance on Non-Citizen Eligibility, explains how, under existing law and Department of Homeland Security regulations, states should seek reimbursement for SNAP benefits received by lawful permanent residents with a sponsor who signed an affidavit of support on or after Dec. 19, 1997. The law also requires that the income and resources of the sponsors of certain non-citizens be counted in determining their eligibility for federal means-tested benefit programs, including SNAP, except for children, victims of domestic violence, and those who are indigent. These requirements to count sponsor income are reflected in current SNAP regulations.

Today’s guidance encourages states to request reimbursement if a sponsored non-citizen receives SNAP benefits and provides clarification on the steps for requesting repayment. The guidance also reminds states of their obligation to comply with the requirements for counting sponsor income. It promotes these steps to preserve program integrity and instill taxpayer confidence in SNAP.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Page updated: November 07, 2023