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You may have wondered if there are consequences of applying and having food stamps in the United States. In this article we will know the answer.

To obtain a consultation on this topic or any other immigration matter in the US, you should contact our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles. David and Ramiro are prestigious attorneys recognized for their extensive knowledge in all types of immigration cases.


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Consequences Of Applying and having Food Stamps For Immigration In The US In 2024

In the past, aliens were afraid of having food stamps, since it could have consequences for their immigration status or that of their family members. 

This was because the law stated that any non-citizen would possibly become a public charge, making them inadmissible to the United States.

However, this rule was struck down by the Federal District Court. Currently, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is encouraging state Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) agencies to publicize the new policies in immigrant communities. 

Thanks to this, immigrants who need SNAP benefits may become eligible. FNS helps make public charge policy understandable, preventing immigrants from being discouraged from applying for such benefits. 

Does requesting food stamps affect when it comes to fixing papers in the US?

Currently, requesting food stamps does not affect the possibilities that immigrants have to fix their papers in the United States. 

However, aliens may compromise their ability to obtain the Residence Card if:

  • The immigrant gets cash benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or General Assistance (GA);
  • Your family’s only income is from cash benefits;
  • You are in a nursing home or get long-term care paid for by Medicaid

Note: The possibility that the alien has to obtain the Green Card is not affected if only their children receive cash benefits.

change of status from visitor visa to green card

Now that you know the consequences of requesting food stamps in the paperwork process, our article may be of interest to you: “Change of status from visitor visa to Green Card

Does Having Asked for Food stamps Affect Me To Obtain Any Immigration Benefit?

No, as previously mentioned, applying for food stamps in the United States will not affect the alien’s immigration status. In addition, eligible aliens may qualify for any immigration relief, such as:

Are you still worried about the consequences of applying and having food stamps or other types of welfare as an immigrant? You may be interested in knowing about illegal reentry after deportation

Is It Bad To Grab Food Stamps?

It’s not wrong to grab or ask for stamps. Although the previous presidency of the United States issued a rule that denied visas or permanent residence to immigrants who have received these benefits, the current president rescinded that rule (for now). 

is it bad to grab food stamps

Who Is Eligible To Apply For SNAP?

Federal rules state that individuals may be eligible for SNAP if their household income and resources meet all three of the following:

  • Net or household income is at or below the poverty level;
  • Assets must be below certain limits. For example, households without a family member over the age of 60 or with a disability must have assets of $2,500 or less. Households with said relative must have assets of $3,750 or less;
  • Gross monthly income before program deductions are applied, generally must be at or below 130% of the poverty level. 

How Does Applying For Food Stamps Affect Me In 2024?

As noted, there are no consequences to an alien’s immigration status requesting or having food stamps. However, the immigrants must use that money for what was given to them: to buy food. Otherwise, it will be considered as fraud.

Fraud is an activity that can be punished with:

  • Criminal prosecution;
  • Severe consequences for immigration status;
  • Disqualification for certain immigration programs. 

In most cases, immigration attorneys recommend receiving the benefit for no more than 12 months.

What If I Lie To Get Food Stamps?

Lying to receive food stamps is considered fraud. If an individual lies to get more than $100 in food stamps, they could:

  • Receive a prison sentence ranging from 1 to 10 years in jail;
  • Return all the money you used dishonestly;
  • Pay a fine that can be around $15,000 more or less.

How Can I Apply For And Get Food Stamps?

There are several ways an individual can apply for Food and Nutrition Services or food stamps in the United States. To do this, the applicant must:

  • Use the online SNAP map to find your state or local office and phone number;
  • Submit the application in person at one of the state or local offices.

Some states; like North Carolina, have websites (such as ePASS) where you can apply for food stamps electronically. In California, you can apply through the CalFresh website

Who Can Receive Food Stamps?

To get food stamps, family members must have or have applied for Social Security. In addition, they must be:

  • American citizens;
  • Permanent residents and with at least 40 work credits;
  • Active or retired members of the Armed Forces, or their spouses or dependent children;
  • Refugees or asylees in the US
consequences of requesting food stamps or medicaid

What Do I Need To Submit To Apply For Food Stamps?

  • Documents of expenses of public services;
  • Rent receipts or proof of mortgage payments;
  • Proof of income for each family member;
  • Identification card with name and address;
  • Medical bills for individuals in the household who are age 60 or older and who receive Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security income;
  • Evidence of how much is spent on child care.

What Is CalFresh?

CalFresh is the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in California. This program helps low-income families to buy the food they need. Previously, it was known as the Food Stamp Program.

Who Can Get CalFresh?

  • Individuals can get CalFresh even if they get money from a job, social security, general assistance or retirement, CalWORKS, unemployment or disability;
  • Individuals receiving SSI are not eligible for CalFresh, but their family members may be eligible;
  • Most college students can get CalFresh if they meet the necessary requirements;
  • Those individuals who do not have children can still get CalFresh.

Like other food stamp programs, receiving CalFresh does not affect the immigrant’s ability to obtain US residency or citizenship. 

Note: If your CalFresh application was previously denied, it is recommended that you try to apply for it again. 

Does Asking For Medi-Cal Affect The Paperwork?

Applying for Medi-Cal does not make an individual a “public charge” or affect their immigration status, unless the individual:

  • Receive long-term care in a nursing home;
  • Receives long-term care in a facility paid for by the government through Medi-Cal, or;
  • They do not tell the truth in the application for health coverage. In short, they lied. 

If the immigrant complies with what is necessary for this program and does not violate its rules, they will not be affected. Therefore, the immigrant will be able to continue with their chances of obtaining permanent residence or becoming a US citizen.

Although the consequences of applying for food stamps nowadays are usually minimal, if the immigrant is considering becoming a US citizen, they should be aware that there are certain criminal bars to citizenship.

What Is MediCal?

Medi-Cal, or MediCal, is California’s version of the federal Medicaid program. This program offers free or low-cost health coverage to eligible individuals who live in California. 

Medi-Cal is overseen by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).

food stamp programs

Does It Affect Applying For Medicaid?

Applying for Medicaid does not affect the immigration status of immigrants. However, applicants must not lie in their application process to get such benefits.

What Can You Buy With The Help Of Food Stamps In The United States?

Although Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards come with a specific amount of money, beneficiaries are limited in how they spend that money. 

The main things you can buy with food stamps are groceries at any supermarket, grocery store, farmer’s market, or “open sky” market that accepts food stamps as payment.

In short, what you can buy with these food stamps are:

  • Non-alcoholic beverages;
  • Snacks (nutritious and healthy);
  • Meat;
  • Cereals;
  • Any other staple food;
  • Fruits;
  • Grain;
  • Eggs;
  • Milk;
  • Legumes;
  • Other dairy;
  • Bread;
  • Fish;
  • Free range chicken;
  • Organic products;
  • Seeds;
  • Vegetables;
  • Yogurt.

What Can’t You Buy With Food Stamps?

  • Came;
  • Beer;
  • Other alcoholic beverages;
  • Vitamins;
  • Medicines;
  • Supplements;
  • Cigarettes or tobacco;
  • Pet food;
  • Cleaning articles;
  • Tobacco and cigarettes;
  • Toilet paper and other household products;
  • Personal care, hygiene or cosmetic products;
  • Food prepared for immediate consumption. For example, roast chicken.
  • Live animals. Seafood is excluded.

Note: Although you can’t buy vitamins or medications with food stamps, individuals over the age of 60 or with a disability may be able to cover such expenses with their stamps.

Common Questions About Food Stamps In The United States

What are food stamps?

Food stamps or food coupons are nutritional aid granted by the US federal government to individuals with limited resources so that they can buy basic food.

Will If I Get SNAP Help Affect My Taxes?

No, benefits received from SNAP are not considered income.

Why is the EBT Card Balance I Received $0?

When SNAP is applied for, an EBT card may be issued immediately. However, until the application process is completed, the card will not have any balance.

Why do some people buy non-food items with an EBT card?

Although SNAP benefits are for food only, some individuals can purchase food and non-food items through a TAFDC (cash assistance).

Can I Apply for SNAP If I’m Homeless?

Yes, a permanent address is not required to apply for this program. 

How Can The Law Firm Of Lluis Law Help You To Apply For Food Stamps?

Although most individuals can apply for food assistance without the help of an attorney, it is recommended that you consult with one to determine if you can indeed apply for food stamps.

An experienced attorney can help clarify the specific state laws and eligibility requirements for the program. In addition, attorneys may also appeal benefit denials and even represent the beneficiary in court, as needed.

Our immigration attorneys have extensive knowledge on these matters. With more than 50 years of experience, the attorneys at Lluis Law have helped thousands of Hispanic immigrants in California. 


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