What if you are not a citizen?


DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

Some noncitizens are eligible for TAFDC. If you are a noncitizen who is not eligible for yourself, you can apply for your children if they are eligible. There are four groups of noncitizens who meet noncitizen eligibility rules.

  • Refugees and other noncitizens granted special legal status because they are fleeing persecution, including
  • persons who entered the U.S. as refugees,
  • persons granted asylum after entering the U.S.,
  • persons granted withholding of deportation or removal,
  • certain Vietnamese Amerasians (generally individuals fathered by U.S. military members during the Vietnam conflict),
  • certain Cuban or Haitian nationals who
    • entered the U.S. with parole status,
    • are in removal proceedings but there is no final, enforceable order of removal, including those with an order of supervision,
    • have a pending application for asylum,
    • or meet other rules for Cuban/Haitian entrants,
  • Afghan evacuees who have humanitarian parole status,
  • Afghan or Iraqi military interpreters and their families granted Special Immigrant status, or
  • victims of trafficking in human beings.

Persons in this group meet noncitizen rules without any waiting period and whether or not they have become lawful permanent residents.

  • Lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders or “LPRs”) or noncitizens granted parole status for at least one year (this is granted for humanitarian reasons) who
  • have had lawful permanent resident or parole status for a minimum of five years, or
  • previously were refugees or had another refugee group status (see above), or
  • have been continuously present in the U.S. (with no long interruptions) since at least August 21, 1996 (even if lawful permanent resident or parole status was granted within the past five years).
  • Veterans of the U.S. military and active duty military personnel who are lawfully residing in the U.S. (even if not LPRs), their spouses, surviving spouses who have not remarried, and their children; and
  • Battered noncitizens who meet certain legal status requirements and were abused by a spouse, parent, or member of the spouse’s or parent’s family, such as an in-law (and the children or parents of battered noncitizens). See What are the special noncitizen eligibility rules for battered immigrants and their families?

106 C.M.R. § 703.340; DTA Online Guide (Eligible Qualified Noncitizens – TAFDC); DTA Field Operations Memo 2005-22 (June 1, 2005) (battered noncitizens); DTA Operations Memo 2016-4 (April 12, 2016); (Cuban/Haitian entrants); DTA Field Operations Memo 2007-52 (Sept. 28, 2007) (Cuban/Haitian entrants); DTA Online Guide Transmittal 2021-83 (Oct. 29, 2021) (Afghan evacuees); DTA Field Operations Memo 2010-19 (Mar.16, 2010) (Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants); DTA Transitions, Oct. 2012, p. 4.

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