COVID-19 Resources Available to Immigrants and Refugees

Learn more about resources available to immigrants during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

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We know that this is a particularly difficult time for our immigrant communities, many of whom have been hard hit by job losses and some of whom are not eligible for relief recently offered by the federal government. We will update this page with resources and information, and we will continue to advocate for our immigrant communities.

Health care and health benefits

If you are sick with COVID-19-like symptoms or know that you have been exposed to the virus, do not hesitate to seek medical advice and care, regardless of your immigration status or insurance coverage.

Massachusetts provides resources to pay for COVID-19 testing and treatment for low-income Massachusetts residents, regardless of their immigration status. For example, MassHealth Limited is available on an emergency basis to all Massachusetts residents who do not qualify for public health insurance programs due to their immigration status, and will cover the costs of testing and treatment for COVID-19. The Commonwealth’s Health Safety Net program is also available to qualifying low-income Massachusetts residents no matter their immigration status, and will pay for testing and treatment for COVID-19 provided by hospitals and community health centers.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued guidance encouraging everyone with symptoms that resemble COVID-19 to seek necessary medical care.  USCIS has said that COVID-19 tests and treatment will not be considered for Public Charge decisions. Also, the Public Charge analysis does not apply to most noncitizens and most health care insurance programs, including MassHealth Limited and the Health Safety Net, do not count for the Public Charge analysis.  For more information about the applicability of Public Charge, visit the Protecting Immigrant Families Know Your Rights Page.

Importantly, federal and state privacy laws require health care providers to keep patients’ personal information confidential.

Resources available for noncitizens

For workers

Under State law, workers are eligible for benefits from their employers, including earned sick time, regardless of their immigration status.

Similarly, there is no immigration status requirement for workers to be eligible for the new COVID-19-related federal emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave benefits in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The new requirements for employers to provide those benefits are enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which does not ask workers about their immigration status.

Noncitizen workers who are authorized to work in the United States may apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Persons who are undocumented should not file for unemployment benefits. The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance provides additional information about filing for unemployment as a noncitizen. Unemployment benefits do not count for Public Charge decisions.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office serves all workers, regardless of their immigration status.

Federal stimulus payments to individuals

The recently passed federal stimulus bill, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides one-time cash payments of $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for taxpayers filing jointly, and $500 per child, in the form of an advanced tax rebate for families who meet income qualifications. Noncitizens who have valid social security numbers and file taxes as “resident aliens” may be eligible for these payments. The National Immigration Law Center has more information on the impact of the CARES Act and other recent federal legislation on immigrant communities.

Other benefits available to immigrants

A number of government benefits are available regardless of immigration status. Please see the  Massachusetts Law Reform Institute’s Benefits for All page for more information. It is also important to remember that some benefits, like TAFDC or welfare, may be available to some family members even if other family members are not eligible.

Assistance from community and worker organizations

In response to the current public health crisis, some non-profits and worker organizations are providing small cash grants to Massachusetts workers, regardless of immigration status. Massachusetts Jobs With Justice is collecting a list of these funds here with information about how to apply. Massachusetts Jobs With Justice has also compiled a list of mutual aid organizations that have sprung up to coordinate assistance among community members in individual towns and cities in the Commonwealth.

MassUndocuFund is a statewide fund for undocumented families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Click here for information about how to apply.

 

For additional resources, visit the MIRA Coalition’s COVID-19 resources page and the City of Boston’s COVID-19 Resource Guide for Boston’s Immigrants.

 

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