Immigration and welfare laws raise clear concerns about potential immigration consequences for non‐immigrants who accept public benefits from the federal, state, county or any other local U.S. government agencies. Some public benefits—such as immunizations and children’s nutrition and health programs—will not cause problems, while others cannot be accepted without risking loss of legal status in the United States and creating a bar to re‐entry to the U.S. Always consult an OISS adviser before accepting any public benefits.
Things to consider when looking at accepting public benefits:
A condition of maintaining non‐immigrant F‐1 or J‐1 status is that you, in addition to meeting your educational expenses, are able to provide shelter, food, clothing and health care for you and your dependents. Please contact an OISS adviser if you have questions or need assistance in meeting your financial obligations.
Cooperation between state social service agencies, the U.S. Immigration and Department of State make it possible for an immigration inspector or U.S. Consular officer to become aware of an individual who has accepted public benefits. The acceptance of public benefits is interpreted as a declaration that the individual is unable to meet his or her financial obligations (a requirement of obtaining and maintaining status) and thereby rendering him or herself ineligible for F‐1 or J‐1 status.
U.S. Citizen Children
Occasionally a well‐meaning social service agency, hospital or public housing administrator may offer such assistance not realizing that non‐immigrants are ineligible for such benefits. Additionally, even though U.S. citizen children of non‐immigrant parents may be eligible for pre and post‐natal public benefits, the non‐immigrant parent may be denied a visa or re‐entry based on the child’s receiving the benefits. Again this is interpreted as the non‐immigrant individual not being able to meet his or her financial obligations.