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Immigrants and Coronavirus (COVID-19): You Can Get Care Without Fear

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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Under the law, everyone is eligible for testing and treatment of communicable diseases, including coronavirus. This includes people without legal immigration status. #8119EN

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I don't have legal immigration status. Can I get tested for coronavirus?

Yes. Under the law, everyone is eligible for testing and treatment of communicable diseases, including coronavirus. This includes people without legal immigration status. 

Vaccines for communicable diseases are also available to everyone. This is true no matter your immigration status. If a vaccine is developed for coronavirus, you and your family members should be able to get it, even if you don't have legal immigration status. 

Will medical programs cover the costs of testing and treatment for coronavirus?

Yes. Washington Apple Health covers testing and treatment for coronavirus. 

If you are not eligible for Washington Apple Health, you may be able to buy a Qualified Health Plan (private insurance) on Washington HealthplanfinderFind out more information about special enrollment.

If you don't have legal immigration status, you may be eligible for Emergency Medicaid. It covers testing and treatment of coronavirus in Washington state. You do not have to have legal immigration status to be eligible.  Using it will not cause you problems with immigration. 

If I get treated for coronavirus, will that count against me in the "public charge" test? Will it make it hard for me to get a Green Card?

No and no. Testing and treatment for coronavirus will not count against you in the public charge test. USCIS made a special announcement about this.

Not all immigrants are subject to the public charge test. To learn more, read The New Public Charge Rule:  What You Need to Know.

My family's income has gone down because of the coronavirus outbreak and lack of work. Will this be a problem in the public charge test?

Maybe not. USCIS says you can provide an explanation and/or documentation (proof) if the coronavirus outbreak has affected your economic situation. This could include less household income due to layoffs, or a temporary need to use cash assistance. 

I need unemployment insurance benefits. Will this be a problem in the public charge test?

No! Unemployment insurance benefits don't count in the public charge test. They will not cause you problems with immigration. You can use unemployment benefits without fear. 

Isn't it a problem for immigrants to use medical benefits?

In many cases, no. If you are subject to the public charge test, you probably are not eligible for federally funded non-emergency Medicaid, the only medical program that immigration officials will consider. 

These medical benefits are not considered in the public charge test:

  • Medical benefits (including Medicaid) used by pregnant women or people under age 21

  • Medical benefits used by family members of the person seeking immigration status

  • Emergency Medicaid

  • State-funded medical benefits, including the Medical Care Services Program

  • Qualified Health Plans purchased on Healthplanfinder

Is it safe for me to see a doctor if I need to?

Yes. Your doctor cannot share information about you, including your immigration status, without your permission. 

Federal guidelines say that immigration officials cannot arrest people or do other enforcement activities at health care facilities like hospitals and clinics.

Is it safe for me to apply for medical benefits on Healthplanfinder for myself or my family?

Yes. The information on your application for medical benefits can only be used to decide if you are eligible for benefits.  It cannot be shared with immigration officials.

Where can I learn more about coronavirus?

There is more information in a variety of languages a the King County Health Department website.

Last Review and Update: Apr 02, 2020
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