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ISSUE DATE: 12/2015

Non-citizens who lawfully immigrated to the United States are called Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). LPRs have permission to live and work permanently in the United States. They can travel abroad and return to the United States as long as they have not abandoned their United States residence. Permission to enter as an LPR is usually granted to people living abroad, but under certain circumstances it may be granted to a person already present in the United States. See 0011.03.12.03 (Non-Citizens - Adjustment of Status). An LPR can apply for naturalization to United States citizenship after living in the United States for 5 years (3 years if married to a United States citizen).

Most LPRs obtain permission to enter the United States through a petition from a family member. They may be immediate relatives (for example, spouses, minor children, or parents) of adult United States citizens, or receive family-sponsored preference. The number of family-sponsored immigrants has an annual cap, and the waiting list may be several years long. All petitions for family members must also include an affidavit of support. See 0011.03.15 (Non-Citizens - LPR With Sponsors).

People who receive LPR status through marriage to a United States citizen will be granted conditional permanent residence if they have been married less than 2 years. The purpose is so that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can determine that the reason for the marriage was not for the purpose of gaining entry to the United States. At the end of 2 years, either the couple must file a joint petition with the USCIS to remove the condition, or, to keep his or her LPR status, the non-citizen spouse must qualify for a waiver of joint petition requirement. Conditional permanent residents have the same documents and rights as other LPRs, EXCEPT their I-551 card expires after 2 years and is coded "CR".

There are also provisions for employment-based immigrants with special skills or abilities, or for jobs in which there is a shortage of workers. Most require a petition from an employer. If the employer is related to the immigrant, an affidavit of support (I-834) may also be required.

There are also 55,000 visas per year awarded to people from countries from which few people have been admitted over the previous 5 years. These “diversity” visas are awarded on the basis of an annual lottery where names are submitted and randomly drawn. The I-551, passport, or I-94 will identify these non-citizens as DV1, DV2, or DV3.

Some LPRs may also have held a previous immigration status, such as refugee or asylee, that may impact eligibility. See 0011.03.12.03 (Non-Citizens - Adjustment of Status).

Consider North American Indians born in Canada who have at least 50% North American Indian blood to be LPRs when they enter the United States from Canada.


LPRs are eligible for either federally-funded or state-funded MFIP if they meet all other eligibility criteria. See 0011.03.03 (Non-Citizens - MFIP/DWP Cash), 0011.03.06 (Non-Citizens - MFIP Food Portion) for specific information.


LPRs who meet 1 of the following criteria may be eligible for the federally-funded food assistance program:

A person lawfully residing in the United States for 5 years or more.

A child lawfully residing in the United States who is under 18 years of age.

Were first admitted to the United States as refugees.

Were previously granted asylum.

Had deportation withheld.

Have earned at least 40 qualifying Social Security credits. See SOCIAL SECURITY CREDITS in 0002.61 (Glossary: SELF...). Also see 0010.18.15.06 (Verifying Social Security Credits). Do NOT allow credits earned in quarters after 12-31-96 in which the person receiving the credit was also receiving assistance from a federal means tested program. See FEDERAL MEANS TESTED PROGRAM in 0002.23 (Glossary: Fair Hearing...).

Are veterans with an honorable discharge for a reason other than non-citizen status, and their spouses and unmarried minor dependent children.

Are on active duty in the Armed Forces (other than for training), and their spouses and unmarried minor dependent children.

See 0011.03 (Citizenship and Immigration Status), 0011.03.15 (Non-Citizens - LPR With Sponsors), 0015.48 (Whose Assets to Consider), 0016.21 Income of Sponsors of Immigrants With I-134) for additional eligibility criteria.

LPRs who DO NOT meet the above criteria may be eligible for state-funded food assistance. See 0029.07.03 (State Food Programs).


People who are not eligible to receive SSI due to non-citizen status are not eligible for MSA.


Non-citizens lawfully residing in the United States are eligible.


Follow MSA for aged, blind, and disabled participants. Follow GA for all other adults.

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