Immigration status affects SNAP eligibility. Learn the facts to make sure you and your family have access to the food you need.

The general SNAP eligibility rule for non-U.S. citizens requires legal residents to have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. However, there are many exceptions for certain populations such as refugees, victims of trafficking, and asylum recipients.

Here is a table that helps breakdown SNAP eligibility for non-U.S. citizens.

Immigration Status


LPR* (18 and over)

Eligible (after 5-year bar or qualifying work history)

LPR (under 18)


LPR (Pregnant Women)

Eligible (after 5-year bar or qualifying work history)

Refugees, asylees, victims of trafficking, certain others


Those without documentation and DACA recipients (including children and pregnant women)

Not Eligible

* LPR stands for “Legal Permanent Resident,” colloquially referred to as a green card. This table is an edited and simplified version of one published by the National Immigration Law Center, which can be found here.

Public Charge

Learn the facts about public charge

There is a new federal rule that changes how people are found to be a “Public Charge”. It lets the federal immigration agency look at a longer list of public benefits and more factors such as family income when deciding whether a person is likely to become a Public Charge in the future.

As of January 27, 2020, the new Public Charge rule is no longer blocked. The new rule will go into effect on February 24, 2020. The new rule will not be retroactive, so any additions to the Public Charge test won’t be applied to anyone until after February 24, 2020.

The new Public Charge rule does not apply to everyone.

Generally, the Public Charge rule only applies to:

  • People who are seeking admission or readmission into the U.S.
  • People applying to adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR or green card holders) status, or
  • People applying for visa extensions/renewals.

Many immigrants who qualify for public benefits are exempt from the Public Charge test.

These are some of the types of immigrants who do not have to worry about Public Charge, as long as they don’t leave the U.S. for more than six months:

  • Refugees

  • Asylees

  • People who are already LPRs (green card holders) including those renewing their LPR card

  • VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioners

  • T or U visa applicants/holders (some survivors or trafficking, domestic violence, or other crimes)

  • Special immigrant juveniles

  • Active military duty families, and others

The new Public Charge is clear that benefits received only by an immigrant’s family members (children or others) do not count during the immigrant’s public charge test in the U.S.

What to know about Public Charge and SNAP if you have a Green Card

Are you applying for citzenship (naturalizing)?

There is NO Public Charge test for you.


Are you renewing your Green Card?

There is NO Public Charge test for you.


Are you leaving the U.S. for six months or more?

Public Charge may come up if you try to come back to the U.S.

Talk to an immigration attorney before you leave the U.S.

Note: To qualify for SNAP, Green Card holders typically need to have Lawful Permanent Residency status for 5 years unless they are a child under 18, have a severe disability, have work history, or had earlier humanitarian staus, such as refugee or asylee.

What to know about Public Charge and SNAP if you DO NOT have a Green Card

Do you get SNAP for your U.S. citizen kids or other people you live with? *

Their SNAP has no impact on on any future Public Charge test for you.

Keep SNAP for kids/family

Are you a refugee, asylee, survivor of trafficking (T Visa), or battered immigrant (VAWA self petioner)?

There is NO Public Charge test for you.


Do you have DACA, TPS, a U Visa, or Special Immigrant Juvenile?

There is NO Public Charge test for you, but...

You are not SNAP eligible.

*Ineligible adult immigrants may be able to get SNAP on behalf of eligible household members, such as your U.S. citizen kids. If you get an EBT card on their behalf (with your name on it), benefits on the card are for eligible household members.

Further Resources

Fact sheets from Hunger-Free Oregon on SNAP and Public Charge in English and Spanish

Public Charge fact sheets from Oregon Law Center, Causa, Oregon Latino Coalition in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Korean, Traditional Chinese, Russian, and Somali

Frequently Asked Questions on Public Charge from the Oregon Health Authority

Powerpoint from Oregon Immigration Resources in English and Spanish