Public Benefit Eligibility for Haitians with Temporary Protected Status in Massachusetts

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Janet Napolitano, has determined that an 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti is warranted due to the devastating earthquake which occurred on January 12, 2010. As a result of the earthquake, Haitians who live in the United States are unable to return safely to their country. TPS will be granted to Haitians already in the U.S. as of January 12, 2010, for a period of 18 months, from January 21, 2010 until July 22, 2010. Haitians granted TPS will be allowed to obtain employment authorization.

In addition to being able to live and work legally in the United States for 18 months, TPS also results in the eligibility of individuals for some state public assistance programs.

MA public assistance programs for which individuals granted temporary protected status may be eligible:


As aliens with special status, TPS recipients may be eligible for the following MassHealth programs:

  • MassHealth Essential (for the elderly or disabled, if income under poverty level)
  • MassHealth Family Assistance (for children under 19)

Also, they may be eligible for the following MassHealth programs for which there are no immigration status requirements:

  • MassHealth Limited (emergency care only)
  • Health Safety Net (reimbursement to acute hospitals and health care centers for care delivered to the uninsured)
  • Healthy Start (prenatal care for pregnant women)
  • Children's Medical Security Plan (immunizations and primary care for children under the age of 19)

Cash Assistance

Some TPS recipients may be eligible for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) cash benefits, administered through the MA Department of Transitional Assistance.

MA Driver's license and MA ID

TPS recipients may be eligible for a driver's license or MA ID card if they meet the state's documentation requirements. See instructions for obtaining a driver's license in the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) driver manual at:

Note, to meet the RMV's Social Security Number (SSN) documentation requirement, in some cases, TPS recipients will first need to submit an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as an identity document to the Social Security Administration, in order to have an SSN issued. Note, the estimated EAD processing time is 90 days.

In-state Tuition

TPS recipients may be eligible for in-state tuition if they meet the state's documentation requirements. See the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MDHE) Residency Status for Tuition Classification Purposes at:

Note, there is a six month MA residency requirement for community college in-state tuition, and a twelve month MA residency requirement for state school and university in-state tuition.

Other Public Benefits available to MA immigrants regardless of immigration status:

  • School lunch and breakfast
  • WIC (supplemental food program for women, infants and children)
  • Head Start
  • Non-means tested benefits delivered at the community level, such as food pantries, homeless shelter, child protection services, and domestic violence, mental health and substance abuse treatment

This information is provided by the Office for Refugees and Immigrants.