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Families should access the health and benefit programs they need in times of health emergencies or economic downturn.

All people can access federally-funded community health centers statewide with or without immigration status:

  • For a list of community health centers near you, please visit:
  • For the latest information about where and how to obtain coronavirus testing, please visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services website here.

Using ANY of the following health or benefit programs has NO effect on any immigrant’s ability to get a green card in the future:

    • Programs open to all immigrants with or without lawful status:
      • Emergency Medicaid
      • Free/sliding scale health clinic services
      • Women, Infant and Children’s Nutrition Program (WIC)
      • Free/reduced-price school lunch and “P-EBT” food benefits for families with children
    • Programs open to some immigrants, depending on status:
      • Health coverage under the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare
      • Medicaid for pregnant women and children under age 21
      • Unemployment Insurance
      • IRS “Economic Impact Payment” (the stimulus check from the government)

On March 13, USCIS announced that testing, prevention, or treatment for COVID-19, also called Coronavirus, would NOT be used against immigrants in a public charge test, so families should seek the care they need.

If your children or family members are citizens or already have green cards, they should continue to use the benefits for which they are eligible.  Only benefits used by the immigrant him or herself who is seeking a green card will be counted negatively.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated that during the COVID-19 crisis, “ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.” You can learn more about this policy at

If you apply for a health benefit program such as Medicaid, or access health services, your information will be and must be kept private and confidential even if your family has members with different immigration statuses. Your information cannot be used for immigration enforcement purposes. The law protects you and your family’s information and privacy.

We strive to keep information on our website current and accurate; however, you should not rely on this information and attempt to pursue any legal action on your own without first consulting a licensed attorney. Use of this website or sending us an email inquiry does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Justice Center and users of this web site. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established by written agreement.