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Access to Public Benefits & Programs

Low income immigrants face numerous obstacles in obtaining government assistance for basic survival, in large part because the eligibility rules are complex and not easily understood by local benefit agencies. Immigrants also sorely need representation in applying for immigration benefits to which they are entitled, particularly battered immigrants and other victims of crime. To this end, Empire Justice staff provide services, training and technical assistance to address these needs. The Albany and Long Island offices focus on the access by immigrants to the public benefits to which they are entitled, both through training and representation of individual clients. Our White Plains Office represents immigrants in a wide variety of cases with a focus on victims of crime eligible for U visas and on VAWA self-petitioners. The Albany Office also has a program for the representation of immigrant victims of domestic violence and other crimes. This section of the website provides information and resources both about immigrants and their access to public services and benefits and about potential immigration remedies for those immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and other crimes.

Administrative Dream Act Announced for Young Immigrants Brouchure (Engilish) (Spanish)




TANF at 20: Blog Series
Since 1973, some incarnation of Empire Justice Center has been fighting for low income and disenfranchised New Yorkers' rights. We've seen many changes and weathered many storms, including the so-called "welfare reform" of 1996. The advent of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 brought us the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant, for better or for worse. Twenty plus years later, New York families are still living in poverty. We present to you our perspectives on TANF at 20. Read More

The Law in Action: Watch the Carver v. State Arguments Live on September 16th!
Next week, on Wednesday September 16th at 2 p.m., Senior Attorney Susan Antos of Empire Justice Center will appear before the highest court in the state- the Court of Appeals- to argue Carver v. the State of New York- an important case dealing with fairness for people who do workfare to be eligible for public assistance. Read More

Language Access Denied: LILAC Releases Report Detailing Failed Implementation of Nassau County Executive Orders
It’s been two years since Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano signed Executive Orders 67 & 72, promising interpretation and translation at Nassau County Agencies, yet little progress has been made. Read More



Empire Justice Center Statement on Governor Cuomo's Hate and Human Rights Laws Expansion
The horrifying events that transpired in Charlottesville this past weekend showed us all that we have a long road ahead of us to reach a place where hate has no home in our hearts. We all have a responsibility to stand for what it right. Read More

Empire Justice Stands with Immigrants & Their Families
Empire Justice Center is proud to be one of more than 180 organizations across the country to stand up and speak out against the completely un-American attack on immigrants proposed by Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), and championed by President Donald Trump. Read More



Empire Justice Memo of Support: Expand Access to Drivers’ Licenses
Empire Justice Center strongly supports A.4050, which would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue limited purpose drivers’ licenses without requiring applicants to establish their legal presence at the time of the application. Read More

Empire Justice Testimony at the 2017 Human Services Budget Hearing
Our extensive testimony at this year's joint legislative budget hearing on human services. Read More



New York’s Exchange Portal: A Gateway to Coverage for Immigrants
Health Insurance Exchanges have the potential to eliminate many existing barriers to health insurance coverage for low-income workers facing reductions in salaries and benefits. Immigrant families, whose incomes tend to be lower to begin with, have been particularly hard hit by escalating health care costs. National figures from 2010 indicate that 75% of workers in noncitizen families were in traditional blue collar jobs, as compared to 60% of workers from citizen families. The average median annual income for noncitizens was $25,000, roughly half the amount for citizen households. In New York, home to 4.3 million immigrants, noncitizens are over three times as likely as citizens to lack health insurance. Read More

Immigrant Eligibility Chart
The Immigrant Benefit Eligibility chart now includes the provisions of the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act of 2008. Read More

Immigrant Eligibility Handbook
The rules governing the eligibility of individuals who are not citizens of the United States for federal or state public benefits, including medical assistance, are complicated. They are also subject to change. This manual addresses the immigrant eligibility rules of the various health care programs in New York as they existed in December of 2008. Read More



Policy Matters October 2017
Empire Justice Center's latest edition of Policy Matters. Read More

Policy Matters September 2017
Empire Justice Center's latest edition of Policy Matters. Read More

Policy Matters July 2017: Session Wrap
Empire Justice Center's latest edition of Policy Matters. Read More




Food Stamps 101
This course will cover the rights of individuals to apply for food stamp benefits; the financial and non-financial eligibility requirements of the program, including a brief summary of immigrant rules; a basic look at the food stamp budgeting methodology, including how to read a food stamp budget, and the food stamp recertification process. Read More

Immigration Status & Public Benefits Eligibility
This is a training on immigration status as an eligibility requirement in various federal and state public benefits programs. The main focus of the session will be on the immigrant eligibility rules in means tested benefit programs, specifically the Family and Safety Net Assistance Programs, the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), Food Stamps and Medicaid. In addition to the program rules, we will cover the immigrant documentation requirements of the benefits agencies and some special issues that arise in the context of immigrant use of benefits programs, including public charge, sponsor liability and reporting. Read More