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Temporary Assistance for Needy
| US Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Family Assistance
Washington, D.C. 20447
|Transmittal No.TANF-ACF-IM-98-5||Date: August 24, 1998|
SUBJECT: Interpretation of Federal Public Benefit.
PURPOSE: To provide guidance regarding the definition of Federal Public Benefit.
CONTENT: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), P.L. 104-193, as amended, restricts access to Federal public benefits to qualified aliens. Under PRWORA a qualified alien is (1) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act (the "Act"); (2) an alien granted asylum under section 208 of the Act; (3) a refugee admitted to the United States under section 207 of the Act; (4) an alien who has been paroled into the U.S. under section 212(d)(5) of the Act for a period of at least one year; (5) an alien whose deportation is being withheld under section 243(h) of the Act as in effect prior to April 1, 1997, or whose removal is being withheld under Section 241(b)(3) of the Act; (6) an alien granted conditional entry under section 203(a)(7) of the Act as in effect prior to April 1, 1980; (7) an alien who is a Cuban Haitian entrant as defined in section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980; or (8) an alien who (or whose child or parent) has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the United States and otherwise satisfies the requirements of 8 U.S.C. 1641(c).
In an August 4, 1998, Federal Register notice (63 F.R. 41658), HHS identified 31 programs that provide Federal public benefits (see attachment). With a number of exceptions which are not relevant for the TANF program, these programs are required to verify immigration and citizenship status of applicants in order to ensure that only qualified aliens receive the programs' benefits and services. In addition, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has released a Proposed Rule entitled "Verification of Eligibility for Public Benefits." (See 63 F.R. 41662, August 4, 1998).
TANF has been determined to provide "Federal public benefits" as defined in title IV of PRWORA. Any State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act (SSA) is already required to verify immigration status of noncitizens applying for benefits through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system. Nothing in PRWORA changes pre-existing legal requirements regarding the use of the SAVE system for the TANF program. SAVE, however, does not provide all of the information that may now be necessary to determine an individual's eligibility under PRWORA. Until a final rule is published, the new information should be obtained from the DOJ Interim Guidance entitled "Verification of Citizenship, Qualified Alien Status and Eligibility Under Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996," which was published earlier in the Federal Register at 62 FR 61344 on November 17, 1997.
A copy of the DOJ proposed rule and the Interim Guidance may be obtained from the Register online at" www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html" The proposed verification rule is available for public comment during a 60-day period which ends on October 5, 1998. Comments should be sent directly to the address indicated in the proposed rule.
Under section 432(d) of PRWORA (as amended by section 508 of the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996), providers who are nonprofit charitable organizations are not required under title IV of PRWORA to determine, verify, or otherwise require proof of eligibility of any applicant for benefits. This exemption, however, is not relevant to TANF since, as mentioned above, any State program funded under title IV-A is required to verify alien eligibility pursuant to section 1137(d) of the SSA independently from title IV-A of PRWORA
ATTACHMENT: 63 F.R. 41658-61 (August 4, 1998).
INQUIRIES: Inquiries should be directed to the appropriate Administration for Children and Families Regional Administrator.
Office of Family Assistance