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1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (An act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to section 201(a)(1) of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 1997)

H.R. 2260; Pub.L. 104-193; 110 Stat. 2105.

104th Congress; August 22, 1996.

You can find the full text of this law from the GPO as text or PDF.



The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 determines qualified aliens eligible for Federal, State, and Local public benefits. The act emphasizes the principle of self-sufficiency and removes the incentive for illegal immigration to the United States provided by the availability of public benefits. Public benefits, defined by the PRWORA, are any grant, contract, loan, professional license, or commercial license provided by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States; and any retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States. Aliens who are eligible for these benefits must be lawfully admitted for permanent residence, granted asylum, admitted as a refugee, paroled into the U.S., or granted conditional entry. Exceptions included in the PRWORA that non-qualified are eligible to receive are assistance for health care items and services that are necessary for the treatment of an emergency medical condition, short-term, non-cash, in-kind emergency disaster relief, Public health assistance for immunizations with respect to immunizable diseases and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases whether or not such symptoms are caused by a communicable disease, or Programs, services, or assistance – such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter.

(Summary by Irina Melniciuc and Sean Beszhak)



National Conference of State Legislatures - Offers reliable analysis of PRWORA

Urban Institute - Analyzes social welfare programs in Washington State and the effects of PWRORA on Washington citizens.


Many thanks to Hein Online for document provision, and The University of Washington-Bothell Library, for arranging web hosting. If you have any questions about this site, please contact the course instructor, Sarah Starkweather, at sarah [dot] starkweather [at] gmail [dot] com.