Immigrants

Will getting health insurance through Medicaid, CHIP, or Health Insurance Marketplaces affect an individual’s ability to obtain lawful permanent resident status or citizenship?

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Some people who apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence) or a visa to enter the U.S. must pass a “public charge” test – which looks at whether the person is likely to use certain government services in the future. In making this determination, immigration officials review all of a person’s circumstances, including their age, income, health, education or skills (including English language skills), and their sponsor’s affidavit of support or contract. They can also consider whether a person has used certain public programs.

Under new rules, effective February 24, 2020, the federal government may consider use of Medicaid by non-pregnant adults as part of the public charge test for some groups of immigrants. Use of Medicaid does not automatically disqualify someone from obtaining a green card. It would be one of the range of factors considered in the test. The public charge test will not consider use of Medicaid by other family members.

Some groups of immigrants are not subject to the public charge test, including refugees, asylees, and other humanitarian immigrants.  In addition, lawful permanent residents or people with “green cards” are not affected unless they leave the U.S. for over 180 days and seek to re-enter.

Use of CHIP or Marketplace coverage are not considered in the public charge test.

The public charge test does not apply in the naturalization process, through which lawful permanent residents apply to become U.S. citizens.

This information is based on analysis of federal regulations and is not legal advice.  Get help deciding what is best for your family and consult with an immigration attorney if you can.  You can use this online directory to search for local nonprofit organizations that provide legal help and advice:  http://www.immigrationlawhelp.org

While we have made every effort to provide accurate information in these FAQs, people should contact the health insurance Marketplace or Medicaid agency in their state for guidance on their specific circumstances.