COVID-19 Healthcare & the Public Charge Rule

By Julia Westbrook, Paralegal at Law Firm of Moumita Rahman

Many people around the US have been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are worried that medical treatment could negatively affect their immigration case. We’re here to tell you that if you need it, you should seek testing and treatment for COVID-19; it will not negatively affect your Public Charge test. 

On March 13, 2020, USCIS announced that Public Charge tests by the government will not consider whether someone sought testing or healthcare related to COVID-19. This is true even if the service is provided by certain public benefits, such as Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as state, local, or tribal public health care when it is not funded by federal Medicaid. 

The government is also making exceptions for people who must seek certain federal benefits because of the virus. If someone temporarily loses their job or income due to COVID-19 and needs to rely on public benefits for a period of time, they can submit a statement to the government along with their application explaining. The government will take all factors into consideration when making their decision.

“The alien may submit a statement with his or her application for adjustment of status to explain how such methods or policies (of social distancing or quarantine) have affected (them).”

In fact, the government is encouraging anyone with severe COVID-19 symptoms to seek medical services. Anyone with a pending or future immigration case should not hesitate to get proper treatment out of fear of failing the Public Charge test. This applies to individuals in mixed-status families as well. 

“USCIS encourages all those, including aliens, with symptoms that resemble Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) (fever, cough, shortness of breath) to seek necessary medical treatment or preventive services.  Such treatment or preventive services will not negatively affect any alien as part of a future Public Charge analysis.”

The government has made it clear that testing and healthcare related to COVID-19 are not negative factors in a Public Charge test. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, you can seek help without fear. 

The Law Firm of Moumita Rahman will continue to post about the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on immigration processes, including Public Charge and the collection of public benefits. If you need assistance with your adjustment of status and more clarification of the Public Charge rule, please contact our office to set up a consultation. We can help.

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