Immigrant Crime Victims Who Are Eligible To Access Healthcare Exchanges

An immigrant’s eligibility for the healthcare exchanges and its related subsidies depends upon the immigrant’s status at the time of applying for the benefit.

Immigrant access to the healthcare exchanges is governed by whether an immigrant is on the list of immigrants that are “lawfully present” in the United States. It is important to note that “lawfully present” includes, but is not limited to, lawful permanent residents. “Lawfully present” is a term of art in public benefits law that includes some groups of immigrants who are in the process of filing for, but may not have received, legal immigration status. Three significant examples of lawfully present immigrants who have access to the healthcare exchanges, but do not have legal immigration status under U.S. immigration laws are:

  1. Human trafficking victims who have received bona fide determinations from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in their T visa cases;
  2. Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners who have received prima facie determinations in pending VAWA self-petitioning cases; and
  3. Abused, abandoned, or neglected immigrant children who have filed cases seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).

The following is an overview of categories of immigrants who are eligible to purchase health insurance on the healthcare exchanges and who are subject to the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their children may have significant physical and mental healthcare needs that can be addressed by access to healthcare insurance through the healthcare exchanges. It is important for advocates and attorneys to screen survivors and their children for healthcare exchange eligibility and help those eligible obtain insurance that will provide them full access to post assault, prenatal, child, and other forms of healthcare. Some immigrant survivors will qualify based on a form of immigration relief they have already received. Other immigrant survivors will be eligible based on a pending application for immigration relief they have filed with DHS. Finally, a category of immigrant survivors will qualify based on having been awarded an immigration status and having been awarded employment authorization. Most, but not all, of the immigrants eligible to purchase insurance on the exchanges will have been awarded work authorization, providing an avenue to earn the funds needed to purchase healthcare through the exchanges. Battered immigrant VAWA self-petitioners are one example of immigrants who will be granted access to the healthcare exchanges up to 9 months before they receive legal work authorization.

The list below indicates which categories of lawfully present immigrants granted legal work authorization by the initials (WK) following the category. To determine when and whether a survivor will receive work authorization based on an immigrant survivor’s immigration status or application for legal immigration status, see Immigration Status: Work Authorization, Public Benefits, and Ability to Sponsor Children (Chart)

The list below indicates which categories of lawfully present immigrants are considered “qualified immigrants” by the annotation (QA). “Qualified immigrants” generally have an ability to access certain forms of federal and state public benefits beyond healthcare. For example, battered immigrant spouses, children, and step-children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, who receive prima facie determinations in VAWA immigration cases, are qualified immigrants, as are human trafficking victims who have received a bona fide determination in a T visa case. For more general information on survivors who are qualified immigrants and their eligibility for public benefits, see Empowering Survivors: Legal Rights of Immigrant Victims of Sexual Assault, Soraya Fata, Leslye E. Orloff, & Monique Drew, Chapter 16: Access To Programs And Services That Can Help Victims of Sexual Assault (2013) and Breaking Barriers: A Complete Guide to Legal Rights and Resources for Battered Immigrants, Cecelia Olavarria, Amanda Baran, Leslye Orloff, & Grace Huang, Chapter 4.2: Public Benefits Access for Battered Immigrant Women and Children (2013)

Finally, the list below includes immigrants deemed lawfully present because advocates and attorneys working with immigrant survivors will encounter immigrant survivors who will only be eligible for access to healthcare exchanges, as opposed to other forms of federal and state benefits. Immigrant visa holders on student, tourist and work visas who become victims of sexual assault, dating violence or domestic violence in the U.S. will qualify for healthcare.

Immigrants who have been granted by DHS any of the following forms of legal immigration statuses are eligible to access the healthcare exchanges as lawfully present immigrants:1

  • Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR/Green Card holder)(WK)(QA)
  • Asylee (WK)(QA)
  • Refugee (WK)(QA)
  • Conditional entrants (entered U.S. before 1980, like refugees)(WK)(QA)
  • Cuban/Haitian Entrant(WK)(QA)
  • Paroled into the U.S. (WK and QA only if parole for 1 year or more, included children of approved VAWA cancellation of removal and suspension of deportation recipients)
  • Battered Spouse, Child and Parent receiving immigration relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)(WK)(QA)
    • VAWA self-petitioners and their children (WK)(QA)
    • VAWA cancellation or removal recipients (WK)(QA)
    • VAWA suspension of deportation recipients (WK)(QA)
  • Victim of Trafficking granted Continued Presence or a T visas and his/her Spouse, Child, Sibling or Parent (WK)(QA T Visa only not continued presence)
  • U visa holders (WK)
  • Deferred Action Status (WK)
    • Except Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are not an eligible immigration status for applying for health insurance
    • Includes U visa applicants and their spouses and/or children included in their applications who have received wait-list approvals
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)(WK)
  • Immigrants with lawful visas: Tourists, students, and visitors on business, as well as individuals who are permitted to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. Persons granted status under 8 U.S.C. section 1101(a)(15)(A) through (V) or by a treaty. Must not have violated the terms of their status.
  • Granted Withholding of Deportation or Withholding of Removal (higher standard than asylum, no path to lawful permanent residency(WK)(QA)
  • Granted Convention Against Torture (CAT) Withholding of Deportation or Removal (WK)
  • Citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau (WK)
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)(WK)
  • Lawful Temporary Resident (WK)

Applicants for the following immigration statuses are eligible to access the healthcare exchanges:1

  • Battered Spouse, Child and Parent receiving immigration relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)(QA)
    • VAWA self-petitioners and their children (QA)
    • VAWA cancellation or removal recipients (QA)
    • VAWA suspension of deportation recipients (QA)
    • Battered spouses or children with family based visa petitions pending with prima facie determinations or approved petitions who have not filed for or are not eligible to file for lawful permanent residency (QA)
  • Immigrants with approved family based visa petitions who have filed applications for lawful permanent residency (WK)
  • Immigrants with approved employment based visa petitions who have filed applications for lawful permanent residency(WK)
  • Temporary Protected Status with Employment Authorization (WK)
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
  • Victim of Trafficking Visa (T visa applicants with bona fide determinations and his/her Spouse, Child, Sibling or Parent included in the application)(QA)
  • Asylum, Withholding of Deportation/Removal including CAT (only if they have been granted employment authorization, or if the applicant is under the age of 14 and their application has been pending for at least 180 days)(WK)
  • Withholding of Deportation, or Withholding of Removal, under immigration laws or under the Convention against Torture (CAT) (only if they have been granted employment authorization, or under the age of 14 and their application has been pending for at least 180 days)
  • Family Unity (spouse/child of amnesty recipient who was in the U.S. on May 5, 1988 or LIFE Act recipient who is in the U.S. on December 1, 1988)

Individuals with the following statuses who also have employment authorization are eligible to access the exchanges:

  • Registry Applicants who have been continuously in the U.S. since 1972 (WK)
  • Order of Supervision (WK)
  • Applicant for Cancellation of Removal or Suspension of Deportation (WK)
  • Applicant for Legalization under IRCA (WK)
  • Legalization under the LIFE Act (WK)

For additional information on immigrant crime victim eligibility for health insurance through the healthcare exchanges under the ACA, please see the following resources:

1 Information taken from https://www.healthcare.gov/immigrants/immigration-status/.


© 2015 National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project. The contents of this publication may be reprinted. Any reprinting must be accompanied by the following acknowledgement: This material was reprinted from the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project, American University, Washington College of Law.

This project was developed under grant number 2013-TA-AX-K009 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this program are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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