SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home2115. Citizenship/Alien Status

2115.1 How does an individual become a U.S. citizen?

You are a U.S. citizen either by birth or by naturalization (see §1725).

2115.2 How is an alien eligible for SSI benefits?

A qualified alien can be eligible for SSI benefits if he or she meets one of the categories listed in “A” through “H” below:

  1. Who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence (LAPR), and:

    1. Has 40 qualifying quarters of creditable work; or

    2. Is a veteran, active duty member of the U.S. military or a spouse or dependant child of a veteran or member of the U.S. military; or

    3. Was lawfully residing in the United States on 8/22/96 and is blind or disabled; or

    4. Is lawfully residing in the United States and was receiving SSI on 8/22/96; or

    5. Was granted one of the alien classifications listed below within the last seven years:

      1. Refugee under section 207 of the INA;

      2. Asylee under section 208 of the INA;

      3. Alien whose deportation is being withheld under section 243(h) of the INA or whose removal has been withheld under section 241(b)(3) of the INA;

      4. Cuban/Haitian entrant under one of the categories in Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education and Assistance Act of 1980 or alien in a status that is to be treated as a Cuban/Haitian entrant for SSI purposes (see SI 00502.108B.); or

      5. Amerasian immigrants under section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1988.

  2. Refugee under section 207 of the INA and:

    1. Is a veteran, active duty member of the U.S. military, or a spouse or dependant child of a veteran or member of the U.S. military; or

    2. Was lawfully residing in the United States on 8/22/96 and is blind or disabled; or

    3. Is lawfully residing in the United States and was receiving SSI on 8/22/96; or

    4. Was granted refugee status under section 207 0f the INA within the last seven years.

  3. Granted asylum under section 208 of the INA and:

    1. Is a veteran, active duty member of the U.S. military or a spouse or dependant child of a veteran or member of the U.S. military; or

    2. Was lawfully residing in the United States on 8/22/96 and is blind or disabled; or

    3. Is lawfully residing in the United States and was receiving SSI on 8/22/96; or

    4. Was granted asylum within the last seven years.

  4. Deportation withheld under section 243(h) of the INA or removal withheld under section 241(b)(3) of the INA and:

    1. Is a veteran, active duty member of the U.S. military or a spouse or dependant child of a veteran or member of the U.S. military; or:

    2. Was lawfully residing in the United States on 8/22/96 and is blind or disabled; or

    3. Is lawfully residing in the United States and was receiving SSI on 8/22/96; or

    4. Deportation or removal was withheld within the last seven years.

  5. Conditional entrant under section 203(a)(7) of the INA and:

    1. Is a veteran, active duty member of the U.S. military or a spouse or dependant child of a veteran or member of the U.S. military; or

    2. Was lawfully residing in the United States on 8/22/96 and is blind or disabled; or

    3. Is lawfully residing in the United States and was receiving SSI on 8/22/96.

  6. Paroled into the U.S. for one year or more under section 212(d)(5) of the INA and:

    1. Is a veteran, active duty member of the U.S. military or a spouse or dependant child of a veteran or member of the U. S. military; or

    2. Was lawfully residing in the United States on 8/22/96 and is blind or disabled; or

    3. Is lawfully residing in the United States and was receiving SSI on 8/22/96; or

    4. Was granted Cuban/Haitian entrant status within the last 7 years or was granted a status that is to be treated as a Cuban/Haitian entrant for SSI purposes (see SI 00502.108B.) within the last 7 years.

  7. Cuban/Haitian entrant under Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education and Assistance Act of 1980 and:

    1. Is a veteran, active duty member of the U.S. military or a spouse or dependant child of a veteran or member of the U.S. military; or

    2. Was lawfully residing in the United States on 8/22/96 and is blind or disabled; or

    3. Is lawfully residing in the United States and was receiving SSI on 8/22/96; or

    4. Was granted Cuban/Haitian entrant status within the last seven years or was granted a status that is to be treated as a Cuban/Haitian entrant for SSI purposes (see SI 00502.108B.) within the last 7 years.

  8. Battered spouse or child who petitioned for status as a lawfully admitted permanent resident under section 204(a)(1)(A)(i)-(iv) or 204(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iii) of the INA, or suspension of deportation under section 244(a)(3) or 240A(b)(2) of the INA, and:

    1. Is a veteran, active duty member of the U.S. military or a spouse or dependant child of a veteran or member of the U.S. military; or

    2. Was lawfully residing in the United States on 8/22/96 and is blind or disabled; or

    3. Is lawfully residing in the United States and was receiving SSI on 8/22/96.

Certain other aliens who are not qualified aliens may also get SSI. They include:

  • Noncitizen Indians who are members of a Federally recognized Indian tribe.

  • American Indians born in Canada who are admitted to the United States under Section 289 of the INA.

  • Aliens who are victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons who meet the requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

  • Certain Iraqi or Afghan nationals who provided valuable service as translators or interpreters for the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, or worked for the U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq, and were granted lawful permanent resident status as special immigrants pursuant to Section 101(a)(27) of the INA.

Last Revised: Sep. 1, 2009