Public Benefits for Green Card Holders

Public BenefitsLawful permanent residents are non-US citizens who are granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States. The US government grants the Green Card holders with certain public benefits similar to that of the US citizens. Public benefits are granted to help the immigrants during their hard times and it is just a temporary assistance.

The US citizens are eligible for local, state and federal benefits. Similarly, the Green Card holders are also provided certain state, local and federal benefits. The public benefits do not risk the status of the immigrants in the United States. Many immigrants in America do not come forward to request public benefits, as they have a fear that their immigration status will be at risk, but that is not true. Permanent residents may participate in food programs and are eligible for health care benefits. The US government grants different types of assistance to the immigrants.

An immigrant who has been determined to be a public charge may be inadmissible into the United States and at times may be deported. An immigrant will be considered ineligible for lawful permanent resident status in the United States only if he requires financial assistance for a long time. Public charge is a ground of inadmissibility, according to the US immigration laws. At the same time, getting public benefits do not make an immigrant a public charge. USCIS requires the sponsoring US citizen relative or the US employer to sign an Affidavit of Support, in order to prevent the immigrants from becoming public charges in the United States. The affidavit of support is to prove that the individual who is immigrating to the United States will not become a public charge.

Certain non-US citizens along with their families qualify for some public benefits. They may be eligible for benefits related to immunizations, disaster relief, children’s nutrition, health care programs and treatment of communicable diseases. By getting these benefits, they do not become public charges. In order to avoid the chances of becoming public charges, the immigrants must avoid benefits providing cash assistance, for long-time care. The public benefits are not the same in all the American states; they vary from state to state.

Some of the public benefits granted to lawful permanent residents and for people seeking to become permanent residents, are certain non-cash programs, health care benefits and food programs. Health care benefits include Medicaid, prenatal care, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and certain other low-cost medical aid at health centers which include short-term care.

Disaster relief, public housing, employment training and child care are some of the non-cash programs; programs that do not provide assistance by handing over cash. School meals and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women and Children, come under the food programs for Green Card holders and for the people who seek to become lawful permanent residents.

Institutionalization and cash welfare programs are granted only to the Green Card holders. Residing in a health or a mental health facility for a long-term, at government expense, is institutionalization. This public benefit is not provided to the people who look forward to become lawful permanent residents. Supplemental Security Income, state General Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are the cash welfare programs for which only the Green Card holders are eligible.

There is no restriction for the refugees and asylees in terms of using the above mentioned public benefits as they can use any benefit including cash welfare and institutionalization.

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