Date: October 03, 1996



On September 30, 1996, The President signed into law H.R. 3610, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 1997. This omnibus budget bill includes six FY 1997 appropriations measures and contains SSA's FY 1997 appropriation. The bill also includes the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

Included in the immigration reform section of H.R. 3610 were the following provisions of interest to SSA:


Definition of "Qualified Alien "

  • Amends section 431 of P.L. 104-193 to add to the list of six specific immigration categories that comprise the definition of "qualified alien," the following new category:
    • Aliens and their children who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a spouse or parent or a member of the spouse's or parent's family living in the same household as the alien if the alien has a petition for adjustment of immigration status approved or pending and the Attorney General determines that there is a substantial connection between such battery or cruelty and the need for benefits. Such determinations would not be subject to review by any court.


NOTE: In order to be eligible for SSI, a "qualified alien" would have to meet the more restrictive SSI eligibility criteria under P.L. 104-193 (see Legislative Bulletin 104-32). In practical effect, the only SSI recipients affected by this provision would be military personnel, veterans, and their family members who do not fall into one of the other six categories making up.the definition of "qualified alien."

Sponsorship Deeming

  • Amends section 421 of P.L. 104-193 to add the following two exceptions to sponsor-to-immigrant deeming:
    • Requires that if a noncitizen is indigent and the agency makes a determination that without 55I benefits the noncitizen is unable to obtain food and shelter taking into account the noncitizen's income and cash, food, housing, and other assistance provided by any individual including the sponsor, then only the amount of income and resources actually p rovided the noncitizen by the sponsor is counted for deeming purposes: In all cases in which such determinations are made, the agency would be required to report the names of the noncitizens and their sponsors to the Attorney General.
    • Provides that deeming would not apply for a 12-month period if noncitizens or their children have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by family members. The deeming exemption period would be extended if the battering or cruelty has led to an order from a judge, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), or the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and the benefit-paying agency determines that the need for benefits has a substantial connection to the battery or cruelty. (Such agency determinations would not be subject to review by any court.) The deeming exemption would not apply for any month in which the noncitizen lives in the same household as the person responsible for the battery or extreme cruelty .

The "indigent noncitizen" provision is effective for noncitizens whose sponsors execute legally enforceable affidavits of support (see below). The "battery/cruelty" exception provision is effective upon enactment.

Affidavits Of Support

  • Replaces the affidavit of support provisions in P.L. 104-193 with the following:
    • Requires that affidavits of support be made contracts under which the sponsor agrees to provide support at an annual income that is not less than 125 percent of the poverty line. Affidavits of support would be made legally enforceable against the sponsor by the sponsored immigrant, the Federal, State, and local governments and would be required to include the sponsors' agreement to support the noncitizens until they become U.S. citizens or until they (or, under certain conditions, their spouses or individuals who claimed them as dependents on their income tax return) have worked 40 quarters in the United States, whichever is earlier.
    • Requires that affidavits be in effect until the noncitizen becomes a U.S. citizen. Affidavits would be enforceable for a period of 10 years after the noncitizen last received public assistance benefits, including SSI, if he or she received such benefits prior to citizenship.
    • Requires the agency to request reimbursement from the sponsor for assistance provided the noncitizen. If 45 days after the reimbursement request, the sponsor is unresponsive or unwilling to make reimbursement, the agency may take legal action against the sponsor. Allows the agency to hire individuals to collect reimbursement.

The Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human
Services (HHS), would be required to develop a standard affidavit of support within 90 days after enactment and the provision would be effective no earlier than 60, and no later than 90, days after enactment.

Study of Noncitizens Who Are Not "Qualified Aliens" Receiving SSI on Another's Behalf

  • Requires that the General Accounting Office within 180 days of enactment submit a report to Congress and the Department of Justice on the extent to which means-tested benefits are being paid to noncitizens acting as representative payees who are not "qualified aliens".

Reports Of Earnings Of Noncitizens Not Authorized To Work

  • Requires the Commissioner to report to Congress. no later than 3 months after the end of each fiscal year, the aggregate number of Social Security numbers (SSNs) issued to noncitizens not authorized to work, but under which earnings were reported.

Effective beginning with fiscal year 1996.

  • Requires the Commissioner to transmit to the Attorney General, within 1 year of enactment, a report on the extent to which SSNs and Social Security cards are used by noncitizens for fraudulent purposes.

Maintaining Information On Noncitizens

  • Authorizes the Attorney General to require any noncitizen to provide his/her SSN for purposes of inclusion in any record maintained by the Attorney General or INS.

Effective on the date of enactment.

Ineligibility Of Noncitizens Not Lawfully Present For Social Security Benefits

  • Prohibits payment of Social Security benefits to any noncitizen in the U.S. for any month in which the noncitizen is not lawfully pre sent in the U. S. (as determined by the Attorney General) .

Effective for benefits based on applications filed on or after the first day of the first month that begins at least 60 days after the date of enactment.


Birth Certificate Requirements

  • Prohibits Federal agencies from accepting copies of domestic birth certificates that do not conform to standards set forth in Federal regulations. The President would select one or more Federal agencies to develop appropriate standards for birth certificates and include them in a final regulation to be promulgated no later than I year after the date of enactment. The regulation would:
    • provide for certification by the issuing agency;
    • provide for use of safety paper, the seal of the issuing agency, and other features designed to resist tampering. counterfeiting. and duplicating for fraudulent purposes;
    • not require a single design to be used by all States; and
    • accommodate the differences between States in the manner and form in which birth records are stored and birth certificates are produced.

The restriction on the acceptance of birth certificates by Federal agencies applies to birth certificates issued after the day that is 3 years after promulgation of the regulation.

  • Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide grants:
    • to encourage States to develop the capability to match birth and death records, within each State and among the States, and to note the fact of death on the birth certificates of deceased persons (focusing first on individuals born after 1950); and
    • for projects in 5 States to demonstrate the feasibility of a system by which State vital statistics records would reflect in-State deaths within 24 hours.
  • Requires HHS to submit a report to Congress within I year of enactment on ways to reduce birth certificate fraud, including any use of a birth certificate to obtain an SSN or State or Federal identification or immigration document.

Effective upon enactment

Driver's License Requirements

  • Prohibi ts Federal agencies from accepting for any identification-related purpose a driver's license, or comparable identification document, issued by a State, unless the license:
    • has an application process that requires the presentation of such evidence of identity as is required by regulations published by the Secretary of Transportation within 1 year of enactment;
    • is consistent with regulations that require security features designed to limit tampering, counterfeiting, photocopying, and use of the license or document by impostors; and
    • contains the SSN which can be read visually or by electronic means. (This requirement does not apply if the State does not require the SSN to appear on the license; requires every applicant for a license to submit his/her SSN; and requires State verification with SSA that the SSN is valid.)

The restriction on acceptance of drivers licenses by Federal agencies would be effective beginning October 1, 2000.

Development Of Prototype Of Counterfeit-Resistant Social Security Card

  • Requires the Commissioner of Social Security, within 1 year of enactment, to develop a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card that:
    • is made of durable, tamper-resistant material (e.g., plastic);
    • employs technologies that provide security features (e.g., magnetic stripe); and
    • provides individuals with reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident noncitizen status.
  • Requires the Commissioner of Social Security and the Comptroller General each to study and report to Congress on different methods of improving the Social Security card application process, including:
  • evaluation of the cost and workload implications of issuing a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card for all individuals over a 3-, 5-, and 10-year period; and
  • evaluation of the feasibility and cost implications of imposing a user fee for replacement cards and cards issued to individuals who apply for such a card prior to the scheduled 3-, 5-, and 10-year phase-in options.


Employment Verification

  • Requires 3 specific pilot programs to begin no later than 1 year after enactment and end no later than 4 years after the pilot begins.
  • Provides for employers to participate voluntarily in any one of the pilots.
    • Basic Pilot--employers in 5 of the 7 States with the highest population of noncitizens not lawfully present would confirm, through a toll-free telephone line or other electronic media system established by the Attorney General , the identity and employment eligibility of the individual based on SSN and immigration document (if applicable).
    • Citizen Attestation Pilot--an employer would not confirm identity or work authorization for individuals attesting that they are citizens. This pilot would operate only in States with a driver's license that contains a photograph and has been determined by the Attorney General to have security features reliable means of identification.
    • Machine-readable Document Pilot- an employer would confirm an individual's identity and work authorization by means of a machine readable SSN on a driver's license. This pilot would apply to individuals who do not attest citizenship and would operate only in States with a driver's license that contains a photograph and has been determined by the Attorney General to have security features/reliable means of identification.
  • Requires that, in cases where the Attorney General has a possible non-confirmation, SSA and the INS provide a secondary verification process to confirm the validity of the information provided. SSA would advise whether the name and number match SSA records and whether the SSN is valid for employment.

Verification Of Student Eligibility For Post-Secondary Federal Student Financial Assistance

  • Requires the Secretary of Education and the Commissioner of Social Security jointly to submit to Congress within 1 year of enactment a report on the Department of Education computer matching program for student loan, grant, or work assistance purposes. The report is to include:
    • an assessment of the effectiveness of the computer matching program, and a justification for such assessment;
    • the ratio of successful matches under the program to inaccurate matches; and
    • such other information as the Secretary and the Commissioner jointly consider appropriate.