Publish Date:
COFA, Public Charge

The United States has international treaty agreements, known as the Compacts of Free Association (COFA), with three Pacific Island nations – the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Citizens of these nations, which are known as the Freely Associated States (FAS), are eligible to freely enter and exit, and reside and work indefinitely, in the U.S. and its jurisdictions. FAS citizens do not require visas to enter the U.S. and are given a “non-immigrant” immigration status that does not have any expiration date. There are over 61,000 FAS citizens currently residing in the U.S. and its Pacific territories.

Once in the U.S., FAS citizens are generally not eligible for most federal, state, and local government benefits. For example, FAS citizens are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid (with exceptions for state-options for certain populations), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, they are eligible for federal housing assistance.