There have been numerous questions posed regarding immigration applications and Medicaid. The August 2019 Public Charge Final Rule made recipients of Medicaid ineligible for immigration benefits. However, as a result of litigation in the U.S 7th Circuit and a new rule under the Biden administration, this disqualification has been eliminated.
USCIS is no longer applying the August 2019 Public Charge Final Rule. As a consequence, among other changes, USCIS will apply the public charge inadmissibility statute consistent with the 1999 Interim Field Guidance. In other words, USCIS is not considering an applicant’s receipt of Medicaid (except for long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense), public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination.
The 1999 Interim Field Guidance defines a public charge as a noncitizen “who has become (for deportation purposes) or who is likely to become (for admission/adjustment purposes) ‘primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.’ Institutionalization for short periods of rehabilitation does not constitute such primary dependence.”
The public charge ground of inadmissibility (PDF) applies to applicants for admission or adjustment of status. However, there are exceptions—certain noncitizens are exempt, as explained in the next question.
Certain noncitizens are exempt, including:
- Applicants seeking refugee or asylee status;
- Certain noncitizens seeking T nonimmigrant status (victims of human trafficking);
- Certain noncitizens seeking U nonimmigrant status (victims of criminal activity);
- Applicants seeking Temporary Protected Status;
- Applicants seeking registry;
- Certain claimants seeking recognition as American Indians born in Canada; and
- Self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act.
If there are further questions regarding this or other immigration or Medicaid issues, please contact our offices for a consultation.