Green Card holders are non-U.S. citizens who are granted lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. that allows them to legally live and work here. The U.S. government grants Green Card holders certain public benefits similar to that of U.S. citizens. Public benefits are granted to help the immigrants during their hard times and it is just a temporary assistance.
U.S. citizens are eligible for local, state and federal benefits. Similarly, Green Card holders are also provided certain state, local and federal benefits. Public benefits do not risk the status of the immigrants in the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. and at times may be deported. An immigrant will be considered ineligible for lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. only if he requires financial assistance for a long time. Public charge is a ground of inadmissibility, according to the U.S. immigration laws. At the same time, getting public benefits do not make an immigrant a public charge. USCIS requires the sponsoring U.S. citizen relative or the U.S. employer to sign an Affidavit of Support, in order to prevent the immigrants from becoming public charges. The Affidavit of Support is to prove that the individual who is immigrating to the U.S. 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, immigrants must avoid benefits providing cash assistance for long-time care. 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 to 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.