Summary of Immigrant Eligibility Restrictions Under Current Law - YunusLawYunusLaw

Most “qualified aliens” entering the country on or after enactment are banned from receiving “Federal means-tested public benefits” for a period of 5 years beginning on the date of the alien’s entry with a qualified alien status (Sec 403) (see exceptions below).  The HHS interpretation, published in the Federal Register on August 26, 1997 (62 FR 45256), designated TANF and Medicaid (except assistance for an emergency medical condition under Medicaid) as the Federal means-tested public benefits administered by the Department.  Subsequently, HHS has communicated that the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is also a “Federal means-tested public benefit.”  The Social Security Administration has stated that Supplemental Security Income is a “Federal means-tested public benefit.”  The Department of Agriculture has also stated that SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) are also means-tested.  No other program has been determined to be a “Federal means-tested public benefit” program.

Exceptions to the 5-year ban on “Federal Means-Tested Public Benefits”:

  • States have the option to provide Medicaid and CHIP assistance to children and pregnant women who are lawfully residing in the United States without a 5-year delay, and no debt accrues to a sponsor under an affidavit of support on the basis of receipt of such assistance, and the cost of such assistance is not considered an unreimbursed cost. (Sec. 214, P.L. 111-3, Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009)
  • Refugees, Asylees, aliens whose deportation is being withheld, Amerasians, and Cuban/Haitian entrants and victims of a severe form of trafficking..  (Sec 403(b)(1))
  • Veterans, members of the military on active duty, and their spouses and unmarried dependent children.  (Sec 403(b)(2))
  • Certain Indians, Hmong, and Highland Laotians are eligible for SNAP.  (Sec 403(d))

Find more information at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website here:


Afia Yunus
Afia Yunus
Mrs. Yunus received her B.A. degrees in Criminal Justice and Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and received Dean’s Honors List distinction every semester. She earned her J.D. degree, Cum Laude, from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2010 with a Certificate in Public Interest Law. Read More

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