Glossary: Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI)

A contract signed by the sponsor that shows that the immigrant applying for a green card is not likely to become dependent on the government for cash welfare or long-term care (nursing homes). There are two types of Affidavits of Support: Old (Traditional) and New (Enforceable).

A noncitizen who, while in the United States, is granted permission to remain because of well-founded fear of persecution in their home country.

A trained expert who can help you understand and apply for benefit programs. Their goal is to help you develop a plan for your future and organize your financial life to run as smoothly as possible.

  • For questions about work and your Social Security benefits, use Social Security's "Find Help" tool to locate a WIPA project near you. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 / 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD). The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) also has Work Incentives Planners (WIPs).
  • If you need assistance with your Medicare, the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program can help. HICAP provides free information and counseling to people with Medicare. You can call HICAP at 1-800-434-0222 or visit the HICAP website.
  • If you need assistance with Medi-Cal and have a disability, you can contact Disability Rights California at 1-800-776-5746 or visit their website. You may also be able to get help with Medi-Cal from a local legal aid organization. The Health Consumer Alliance website has a lot of useful information about Medi-Cal, including a web page that can direct you to a local legal organization for assistance.
  • If you have questions or need assistance with a program or benefit not listed here, contact an Independent Living Center. Independent Living Centers provide peer support and information on a wide range of topics for people with disabilities.

Formerly called Food Stamps, CalFresh is a county-run, federal program that helps people with low incomes buy food. Nationally the program is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In California, the benefits are issued monthly on an electronic debit card (EBT) that can be used to buy most foods at many markets and food stores. To apply for CalFresh, go to the Department of Social Services website.

The Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants. (CAPI) pays a cash benefit to some people with low incomes who cannot qualify for SSI because of their immigration status.

Living and intending to stay in California. Individuals living in a jail, prison, VA hospital, or other public institution are ineligible for benefits.

Assuming they meet all other eligibility criteria, U.S. citizens and Qualified Aliens (inlcuding those who meet I-551 or I-94 status) are eligible for both Social Security and state public benefits programs.

Legal residents who don't have I-551 or I-94 status may be eligible for some state programs, but not for Social Security programs. This could include Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), refugees, asylees, conditional entrants, people certified as victims of trafficking, certain people whose immigration status is pending, people under Temporary Protected or Family Unity Beneficiary Status, Lawful Temporary Residents, applicants for asylum, people who have been granted or are applying for withholding of removal, and all other people with a lawfully residing immigrant status.

People who are undocumented or non-immigrants are eligible for fewer programs.

The amount of another person’s income – spouse, sponsor, sponsor’s spouse, parent – that is considered to belong to the individual regardless of whether the person receives this money.

The inability to engage in any Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) due to any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

A person must not only be unable to do his/her previous work but cannot, considering age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of SGA which exists in the national economy. It doesn't matter whether such work exists in the immediate area, or whether a specific job vacancy exists, or whether the worker would be hired if he/she applied for work. The worker’s impairment(s) must be the primary reason for his/her inability to engage in SGA.

Salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and other amounts you receive as pay for physical or mental work you perform. This can include things you get in exchange for work instead of wages, such as food, shelter, or other items. Funds received from any other source are not included. (Contrast: unearned income.)

A county program that provides relief to those who are unable to support themselves by their own means, or by friends or relatives, other public funds, or other assistance programs.

A deeming exception for CAPI applicants whose sponsor signed an Old Affidavit of Support. An individual is considered to be indigent if he/she receives less than the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit amount - $943 per month in 2024 for an individual ($1,415 for a couple).

Individuals living within the U.S. with a green card.

Cash or other property which can be converted to cash within 20 days, excluding non-work days. Liquid assets include: checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares, promissory notes, mortgages, and life insurance policies.

Noncitizens who are residing in the United States with the knowledge and permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This category includes noncitizens:

  • Subject to an Order of Supervision
  • On whose behalf an immediate relative petition has been approved and who are entitled to voluntary departure
  • Who have properly filed an application for an adjustment to lawful permanent resident status
  • Granted a stay of deportation
  • Granted voluntary departure and who are awaiting issuance of a visa
  • In deferred action status
  • Who entered and have continually resided in the United States since before January 1, 1972

According to Social Security, you are considered a qualified alien if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says you are in one of these categories:

  • Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR) in the United States, including "Amerasian immigrant" as defined in Section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 1988, as amended;
  • granted conditional entry under Section 203(a)(7) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as in effect before April 1, 1980;
  • paroled into the United States under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA for a period of at least one year;
  • refugee admitted to the United States under Section 207 of the INA;
  • granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA;
  • deportation is being withheld under Section 243(h) of the INA as in effect before April 1, 1997, or removal is withheld under Section 241(b)(3) of the INA; or
  • “Cuban or Haitian entrant” under Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 or in a status that is to be treated as a “Cuban or Haitian entrant” for SSI purposes.

A noncitizen who, while outside the U.S. and their home country, was granted permission to enter and live in the U.S. because they had a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country.

The following items do not count as resources:

  • The home, and any adjoining land
  • Household goods and personal effects that have a total value of $2,000 or less
  • One car if it is: necessary for employment, or necessary for medical treatment, or modified for use by a disabled person, or it provides necessary transportation to perform essential daily activities, or has a current market value less than $4500
  • Property of a trade or business that is essential for self-support
  • Non-business property which is essential to self-support
  • Resources of a blind or disabled individual necessary to fulfill an approved PASS
  • Certain stocks held by Alaskan natives
  • Life insurance, if the total face value of all policies on one person do not exceed $1500. Otherwise, the cash surrender values of life insurance policies will count as a resource
  • Restricted allotted Native American lands
  • Payments or benefits paid under other Federal statutes
  • Disaster relief assistance
  • Burial space of any value, and burial funds up to $1500
  • Title XVI (SSI) or Title II (SSDI) retroactive payments for 6 months
  • Housing assistance
  • Earned Income Tax Credits
  • Nine months of payments received as compensation for expenses or losses suffered as a result of a crime
  • Nine months of reallocation assistance

Individuals who file a visa petition for themselves, without the assistance of their sponsor, under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). To file a Self-Petition, you must be a victim of abuse.

A person who, by signing an affidavit of support, agrees to support an immigrant as a condition of the immigrant’s admission for permanent residence in the U.S.

The act of legally sponsoring an immigrant to enter the U.S.

A person who is:

  • Born in one of the 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Swain’s Island
  • Born outside of the U.S. to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen
  • Granted citizenship status by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

When applying for benefits, contact the agency you are applying to to find out what documents are acceptable for proving citizenship.

Funds received from sources for which no paid work activity is performed. Disability benefits such as SSDI, SSI, short-term disability insurance, and long-term disability insurance; VA benefits; Workers' Compensation; income from a trust or investment; spousal support; dividends, profits, or funds received from any source other than work are all usually considered unearned income.

An individual who is a victim of sex trafficking; or, a victim of the forced or fraudulent recruitment, harboring, transport, or provision of a person for labor or services that subject the person to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

An individual who has endured assaultive or coercive behavior that includes: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, economic control, isolation, stalking, and threats.

A law that allows qualified immigrants in an abusive situation to apply for a lawful immigration status directly to the Department of Homeland Security, without the assistance of a sponsor.