USCIS: CoronaVirus Treatment will not Count as Public Charge

USCIS will not count Coronavirus treatment, vaccine, tests, scans, cash benefits, medicaid as public charge for green card. Keep proof of state, employer office closures & cash, food benefits.

Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta    Updated  15 Mar, 20


USCIS has announced that free Coronavirus medical treatment will not count as public charge.

Public charge is a new rule that has been implemented by USCIS and it affects your green card eligibility in US.

USCIS has posted an official notice that explicitly clears the doubts over COVID-19 government’s subsidized or free tests.

You should not hide your symptoms that resemble Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and immediately seek medical treatment or preventive services. 

Such treatment or preventive services will not negatively affect any alien as part of a future Public Charge analysis.  

USCIS Public Charge for CoronaVirus

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

The rule allows you to use to vaccines for children or adults to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases like Flu.

USCIS says that public charge is only one part of deciding on your Green card eligibility. There is no doubt that it is just one part but, it is a significant one and does carry the possibility of denial as aimed by Trump government.

USCIS public charge Coronavirus notice
USCIS public charge Coronavirus notice

To clear the fear and doubts in the minds of people and prevent this pandemic from increasing in America, USCIS has explicitly clarified that any treatment related to Coronavirus will not be treated a ‘public charge’.

USCIS will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination.

The public benefit condition applicable to certain non-immigrants like H1B, F1, B1 etc seeking an extension of stay or change of status will not apply, even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits such as federally funded Medicaid.   

The public charge rule requires USCIS to analyze the receipt of certain cash and non-cash public benefits. 

Green card public charge rule
Green card public charge rule

The list of public benefits considered for this purpose includes most forms of federally funded Medicaid (for those over 21), but does not include CHIP, or State, local, or tribal public health care services/assistance that are not funded by federal Medicaid.

Cash, Food Benefits in CoronaVirus State Shutdown

If you are living and working in an area where Coronavirus prevention methods are enforced by state or city, then USCIS will consider it as a legitimate reason for using those state sponsored cash or food benefits.

These include:

  • Social distancing or quarantine enforced by state or city
  • Employer, school, or university voluntarily shuts down operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19

You should keep a proof of such closure or help provided by state government. You should write a cover letter explaining the situation with your application for adjustment of status (i485) to explain how such methods or policies have affected you with respect to public charge policy. 

Example:

If you could not work or attend school, and used public benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and recovery phase, you can provide an explanation and relevant supporting documentation. USCIS will take all such evidence into consideration.

Note that genuine proofs would be required.

Where to get COVID-19 test in USA?

Enter your zip code to find out the nearest COVID-19 test site.

  1. Go to clinics instead of crowded large facilities if you feel the symptoms of Coronavirus.
  2. Fees: Testing and Treatments are free and will not be counted as public charge.

If confirmed, you will need to observe home isolation for 14 days.

H1B, L Employer Office Closure – Work from Home

If you have to work from home due to mandatory office closure by employer due to Coronavirus, you should post an LCA at your home or employer office.

Keep the proof of office closure to stay on right side of US immigration law.

Source: USCIS




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Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta           

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