How to Verify Applicants Claiming Eligible Immigration Status
HUD’s noncitizen rule says that only households made up entirely of U.S. citizens and/or certain eligible noncitizens (such as a permanent resident alien) can benefit from federal rental assistance [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12 (A)]. To ensure that an ineligible noncitizen doesn’t get assistance, HUD requires you to verify the immigration status of most applicants who declare that they’re eligible noncitizens.
If noncitizens don’t often apply to your site, you may find the verification process confusing. To help make the process easier, we’ll review verification basics. We’ll also provide answers to common questions owners and managers face when verifying an applicant’s eligible noncitizen status.
The noncitizen rule applies to all sites covered by HUD Handbook 4350.3 except the following:
- Section 221(d)(3) BMIR properties;
- Section 202 PAC;
- Section 202 PRAC;
- Section 811 PRAC; and
- Section 202 projects with units not receiving assistance under the Rent Supplement or Section 8 programs [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(F)].
If the noncitizen rule applies to your site, HUD requires that all applicants declare in writing whether they’re U.S. citizens, eligible noncitizens, or neither [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(B)(2)]. You then verify that an applicant is an eligible noncitizen by doing the following:
Getting immigration document. Require the applicant to submit to you an original immigration document to prove his status. Acceptable documents include:
- Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card.
- Form 1-94, Arrival-Departure Record annotated with one of the following:
- “Admitted as a Refugee Pursuant to Section 207”;
- “Section 208” or “Asylum”;
- “Section 243(h)” or “Deportation stayed by Attorney General”; or
- “Paroled Pursuant to Section 212(d)(5) of the INA.”
- Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record (with no annotation) accompanied by one of the following:
- A final court decision granting asylum (but only if no appeal is taken);
- A letter from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asylum officer granting asylum (if application was filed on or after Oct. 1, 1990) or from a DHS district director granting asylum (application was filed before Oct. 1, 1990);
- A court decision granting withholding of deportation; or
- A letter from an asylum officer granting withholding of deportation (if application was filed on or after Oct. 1, 1990).
- A receipt issued by DHS indicating that an application for issuance of a replacement document in one of the above-listed categories has been made and that the applicant’s entitlement to the document has been verified [HUD Handbook 4350.3, Fig. 3-4].
Using SAVE system. Once you have an immigration document, use the DHS Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system to verify the applicant’s immigration status. To do this, sites typically log on to the SAVE system and input information from the applicant’s immigration document—such as the applicant’s name, date of birth, and alien registration number (that is, a unique seven-, eight-, or nine-digit number preceded by the letter “A” that refers to the noncitizen applicant’s file at DHS).
If the system can’t verify the noncitizen applicant’s immigration status, submit a paper form, Form G-845S, “Document Verification Request,” to your local DHS office. DHS will research the applicant’s records in additional automated databases and paper files to verify the applicant’s immigration status. To download the form, visit www.uscis.gov/g-845.
Remember that you shouldn’t use the SAVE system to check if an applicant who declared he’s a U.S. citizen really is one. Use it only to verify the immigration status of persons claiming eligible immigration status [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(L)(1)(a)].
However, you can establish a policy of requiring applicants who declare that they’re U.S. citizens to provide additional proof of citizenship [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(B)(3)]. If you do establish such a policy, be sure to apply it consistently to all applicants, regardless of race, religion, national origin, disability, familial status, and gender. For example, don’t ask for proof of U.S. citizenship only from applicants who appear Middle Eastern. If you do, you could be accused of discriminating.
For information on the SAVE system, you can visit www.uscis.gov/save. And for access to the web-based SAVE system you can provide the SAVE administrator at HUD the complete name, address, and contact information of the owner, or management agent, and a list of your project and/or contract numbers to email@example.com.
Editor’s Note: According to DHS, you can disregard the Jan. 31, 2015, expiration date on the current Form G-845 Document Verification Request until further notice. This version remains valid beyond its expiration date.
FAQs ABOUT VERIFYING ELIGIBLE NONCITIZEN STATUS
Verifying Eligible Noncitizen Status of Applicants over 62
Q I’ve heard that I don’t have to verify the immigration status of applicants who declared in writing that they’re eligible noncitizens, if they’re over 62 years old. Is this true?
A Yes. But you must verify that these applicants are at least 62 years old [Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(B)(3) and exh. 3-5]. You can use the following documents to verify their age:
- Birth certificate;
- Baptismal certificate;
- Military discharge papers;
- Valid passport;
- Census document showing age;
- Naturalization certificate; or
- Social Security Administration benefits printout [Handbook 4350.3, app. 3].
Don’t ask applicants over 62 years old who declare they’re eligible noncitizens to consent to your verifying their immigration status—since you won’t be verifying that status. But get consent from all other applicants who declare that they’re eligible noncitizens. See Exhibit 3-6 of Handbook 4350.3 for a sample verification consent form that you can use for this purpose.
Setting Deadline for Document Submission
Q How long should we give applicants who declare that they’re eligible noncitizens to submit their immigration document to us? Does HUD say anything about how to set a submission deadline for these applicants?
A Yes. HUD says that applicants should submit their immigration document to you by the date you start verifying the applicant’s other eligibility factors [Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(J)(1)]. So ask applicants to get their document to you by the date you plan to do this.
Giving Applicant More Time to Submit Document
Q An applicant who declared that he’s an eligible noncitizen asked us to give him more time to locate and submit his immigration document. We want to do that, but does HUD set a limit on how many extra days we can give him?
A Yes. You can give him no more than 30 days from the deadline you originally gave him to submit the document [Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(J)(2)]. But you can do this only if the applicant certifies that the immigration document is temporarily unavailable and that he needs more time to locate and submit it to you [Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(J)(2)].
If an applicant asks for extra time, inform him in writing whether or not you’ll give it to him. If you decide to give it to him, also tell him the new date by which he must get his immigration document to you. If you decide not to give him more time, explain why [Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(J)(3)].
Sending Form G-845S to DHS
Q The SAVE system couldn’t verify the immigration status of one noncitizen applicant. I understand I must now submit Form G-845S to DHS. Should I also send DHS a copy of the applicant’s immigration document?
A Yes. Send photocopies of the front and back of the applicant’s immigration document, along with a completed Form G-845S, to your local DHS office within 10 days of learning that the SAVE system couldn’t verify the status [Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-12(L)(2)(a)].
Keeping Records of Verification
Q I just verified that one of our applicants is an eligible noncitizen using the SAVE system. Are there certain records that I could keep to show that I verified this applicant’s immigration status?
A Yes. Keep photocopies of the front and back of the immigration document the applicant submitted to you; a printout of the SAVE screen that shows the verification process results; and any memos to the file or other notes you took during the verification process. Having this documentation will show that you followed HUD’s rules when verifying an applicant’s immigration status. If you use Form G-845S when verifying an applicant’s immigration status, also keep a copy of the form you sent to DHS and DHS’s response.