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Information for Noncitizens Applying for a Public Benefit

This page provides useful information to noncitizens regarding how the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program affects your application for public benefits. For foreign language versions of this page, please visit Multilingual Resources for Benefit Applicants.

If you are a noncitizen or naturalized citizen, a benefit-granting agency may verify your immigration status in the United States using the SAVE Program before granting you a state-issued driver’s license, Social Security card, housing assistance, Medicaid, food stamps, or other public benefit.   In order to access your immigration information through SAVE, a Federal, state, and local benefit-granting agency must have the legal authority to verify your immigration status and must enter into an agreement with the SAVE Program.  SAVE only provides immigration status information to the agency for the purpose of determining whether you meet their eligibility requirements.  It is the responsibility of the agency to follow the SAVE verification process and determine your eligibility for the benefit.

How Your Agency Verifies Your Immigration Status by using SAVE

When you apply for a benefit at a government agency, you may be required to present the agency representative with documents that demonstrate your immigration status such as your Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94), Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) or Foreign Passport and Visa.  The agency will enter the information from your immigration document into the SAVE verification system.  SAVE will then check your information against records in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases and respond electronically to the agency. 

In more than 90% of cases, SAVE responds electronically to the agency with your immigration status within 3-5 seconds and no additional information is needed.  However, in a few cases SAVE may request that the agency provide more information from you. 

Supplying Additional Information

For cases that do not verify immediately, SAVE may need additional information and a copy of your immigration documents. This request does not necessarily mean that you do not have lawful status in the United States or that you are not eligible for the benefit that you are seeking.  It is your responsibility to provide the required current documents and information to the agency to ensure timely and accurate immigration status verification.  If you have recently updated your information or your immigration status has recently changed, this update may affect the verification processing time. 

Once you provide this additional information to the agency, the agency will initiate an additional verification request through the SAVE system.  SAVE will conduct a thorough check of your records and provide an electronic response to the benefit-granting agency within 3–5 Federal working days.  In instances where a copy of your immigration document is required to complete the record search, the SAVE electronic response may take up to 20 Federal working days.  For additional information on the verification process, please visit the “SAVE Verification Process” page. 

If the SAVE Program cannot confirm your immigration status after completion of the verification process, you will be given an opportunity to correct your immigration record and reapply for the benefit and/or appeal the benefit-granting agency’s denial of the benefit. 

If you believe that the SAVE Program’s response to the benefit-granting agency did not provide accurate information about your immigration status or you need to make corrections to your immigration record, please see the “How to Correct Your Records” page.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 08/19/2011