CalFresh Food Coupons: Can Immigrants Apply for Benefits in the United States?

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Many American households benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) led by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The financial benefits provided to eligible families to enable the purchase of highly nutritious food products are deposited on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card and are used at authorized establishments.

Although it is a federal program, each state has differences in the distribution process, eligibility requirements, payment dates, among other elements of each local regulation, and in this sense, California has its specificities including variations in the program’s name.

According to the modifications presented by this assistance project in the referred state, the question arises as to what the eligibility requirements for CalFresh (the name SNAP goes by in California) are and if in such case, it is applicable to immigrants.

Below, we refer to the essential details of the beneficial assistance program and its particularities in the state of California.

Can immigrants apply for CalFresh benefits?

Immigrants without regulated status or those who are undocumented cannot apply for affiliation to the CalFresh program, however, there are some exceptions depending on specific situations of the household’s condition.

Taking this element into account, a family can benefit from CalFresh if at least one of the members (including infants) meets any of the requirements we point out below:

  • Is a Cuban or Haitian immigrant.
  • Has U.S. citizenship.
  • Has refugee or asylum status.
  • Holds a permanent residence card “green card” (valid for any period).
  • Has been on parole for at least one year. In this case, Ukrainians admitted on parole qualify before the one-year period.
  • Is an applicant for VAWA assistance (United States federal Violence Against Women Act).
  • Is an applicant or holder of a U visa or T visa.
  • Is Afghan in possession of a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), (SQ/SI) on parole, or other humanitarian parole paths.
  • Is Hmong/Laotian or a Native American born in Canada.
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What parameters prevent being a CalFresh beneficiary?

In such a case, the applicant for the nutrition assistance program will not be eligible if they have any of the conditions we relate below:

  • Holds a student, work, or tourist visa.
  • Is undocumented.
  • Receives benefits from the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) governmental immigration program.
  • Qualifies in the United States under the TPS (Temporary Protected Status) program. If the applicant does not qualify as eligible due to their immigration status, it is possible to apply for the program benefits on behalf of another family member, such as children born in U.S. territory.

What are the eligibility requirements for CalFresh?

The first requirement to qualify as eligible for CalFresh is to be a resident of the state of California.

Additionally, it must be proven that the applicant has a current bank balance of less than $2,001 including savings and checks combined, or less than $3,001 if living with one or more elderly people (over 60 years) or a disabled person who can be a child, spouse, one of the parents, or the petitioner himself.

Following this line of requirements, you can access this link if you wish to expand information concerning the annual family income limits.

What is the monthly amount received by CalFresh beneficiaries?

The financial benefits to be credited by affiliates to the nutrition assistance program vary according to the individual characteristics of each family since income and the number of household members are evaluated.

According to general data, the average payment per member is $196 per month, so the maximum amounts for an eligible family can range from $291 for a family composed of a single member, to $1,532 for a household composed of seven people.

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What is the payment date for this month of March 2024?

Monetary deposits go directly to the EBT cards each month according to the last digit of the beneficiary’s number, for example, if your numbering ends in the digit 3, the payment will correspond to March 3.

According to this procedure, deposit dates in California are still in execution until next March 10 (if your numbering ends in 0), and began on the 1st of this month.

If you want to know about the behavior of the payment calendar this March 2024 for the rest of the American states, you can access this link.

With the electronic card that accredits you as a beneficiary of CalFresh, you have access to the acquisition of high nutritional value food at authorized establishments, including fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, dairy products, cereals, bread, as well as non-alcoholic beverages and even seeds that enable the cultivation of healthy food for family consumption.

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Haymé Santoya Rodríguez

Licenciada en Historia del Arte por la Universidad de Oriente. Investigadora en Casa de la Nacionalidad Cubana. Se especializa en estudios sobre artes visuales y cine cubano. Ha realizado trabajos de curaduría de arte así como conferencias, presentaciones de libros, conversatorios y disertaciones sobre su especialización. Se ha vinculado al periodismo digital desde el 2018.