National Immigration Law Center
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Our mission is to defend & advance the rights & opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.

Food & Nutrition Programs


Since the inception of the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), immigrants without authorization to be in the U.S. have been ineligible for federal nutrition assistance. However, the 1996 federal welfare law introduced unprecedented restrictions on eligibility for even lawfully residing immigrants. Although Congress has restored eligibility for many of these immigrants, significant restrictions remain.

Even when eligible, immigrant families tend to apply for SNAP at significantly lower rates than other families. Reasons for this low participation rate include fear of jeopardizing the family’s immigration status, confusion about eligibility criteria, and complicated enrollment requirements.

Resources for Nutrition Assistance Advocacy

Government-issued Clarifications and Other Memos about Nutrition Assistance

NILC Comments on SNAP-related Regulations