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Coronavirus and Immigration Status: Can Immigrants Use Public Benefits?

There is a really damaging rumor within the immigrant community that if you, or anyone in your family, get any kind of public benefit then Immigration will stop you from getting lawful permanent residency or citizenship. Recently, this means that some people avoid getting tested or treated for COVID-19, or Coronavirus. Please, don’t be afraid to seek medical treatment for COVID-19.

Coronavirus Tests and Public Charge

USCIS Statement About COVID-19

Immigration has made it clear that they will not consider being tested or treated for Coronavirus when determining whether or not you are a public charge. In other words, Coronavirus testing and treatment will not stop you from getting a green card or citizenship. Here is a direct quote from regarding Coronavirus and public charge: 

“The Public Charge rule does not restrict access to testing, screening, or treatment of communicable diseases, including COVID-19.” 

This means that getting tested or treated for Coronavirus will never affect your immigration status. If you or your family are worried that you are sick do not let fear of Immigration stop you from seeking medical attention to protect your family.

Don't Be Afraid to Use Your Public Benefits

Furthermore, if you are eligible for any benefits, please use them. It is rare that they will have an impact on your immigration status. This is true for both documented and undocumented immigrants. If anyone in your family is eligible for state health insurance, you can use it without any fear of Immigration. The same is true for food stamps. Using these public benefits won’t stop you from getting a green card or citizenship.

Especially now as we all cope with the Coronavirus, please get the help that you need. At least one hospital system in our Milwaukee area has said that it will test and treat undocumented immigrants at no charge. Additionally, some medical providers are waiving copays for virtual medical consultations. Please take advantage of these benefits if you think that you need them. Immigration is not going to punish you for taking advantage of any of these things.

Remember, keeping everyone healthy and free from Coronavirus is in all our best interest so that we can stop the spread of this horrible virus. If you have any questions about public benefits, please seek the advice of a good immigration attorney.