A Guide to Medicaid Eligibility for Non-U.S. Citizens

Healthcare Writer

Published on April 4th, 2024

Fact checked by: Colleen McGuire

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Living in the United States but not a citizen? Are you wondering if you can get Medicaid insurance for people with lower incomes?

Here’s what you should know:

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Who Can Get It?

  • Not everyone who isn’t a citizen can get Medicaid
  • You need to fit into a special group called “qualified immigrants.” 
  • But there’s a rule: you usually have to wait for five years. However, some people can skip this waiting period.

Who Are Qualified Immigrants?

  •  People with permanent residency (like green card holders)
  •  Immigrants who were allowed to come to the U.S. for at least a year
  •  Immigrants who got special permission to enter (before 1980)
  •  People who got asylum or are refugees
  •  Entrants from Cuba or Haiti
  •  People who were victims of trafficking (and their families) and have a pending application
  •  People who were abused (along with their kids and parents)
  •  Veterans with an honorable discharge and active military members (and their families) who have a Social Security number

The Five-Year Wait

  • Most qualified immigrants have to wait five years before they can apply for Medicaid. But there are some exceptions:
  •  Trafficking survivors and their family
  •  Veterans or active military and their families who also have a “qualified noncitizen” status
  •  Refugees
  •  People who got asylum
  •  Entrants from Cuba or Haiti
  •  People who got protection from deportation
  •  Members of a recognized Indian tribe or American Indians born in Canada
  •  Certain Amerasian immigrants

Other Things to Consider

Just being a qualified immigrant isn’t enough. Your income and how many people live with you also need to follow the rules set by your state for Medicaid.

Looking for Health Insurance?

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What You Can Do:

  •  Check your status: Make sure you’re a qualified immigrant.
  •  Understand Medicaid: Learn what it covers. It’s different in each state but usually includes important services.

 Apply whenever: There’s no deadline, but you need to meet your state’s rules about income and where you live.

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