In determining welfare eligibility for non-citizens, two broad criteria are taken into account. The most general screen is the concept of "qualified" and "not qualified" alien. Generally, qualified aliens are non-citizens who have been permitted to reside permanently in the United States. They include legal permanent residents (LPRs), refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, and a few other categories.
Qualified immigrants may be eligible for federal and state benefit programs that aim to help families with limited income and resources. Not qualified aliens (mostly illegal and temporary immigrants), by contrast, are ineligible for all except emergency benefits, a policy that was largely in place even before the 1996 reforms.