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 that has been offered by the federal government. We will update this page with resources and information, and we will continue to advocate for our immigrant communities.
All people who live, work, or study in Massachusetts, ages 12 and over, are currently eligible to receive a vaccine against COVID-19, regardless of immigration status. The vaccine is free, whether or not you have health insurance. While some vaccine providers may ask that you bring an ID or health insurance card with you to an appointment, neither an ID nor health insurance are required to receive a vaccine, and you may not be turned away from receiving a vaccine if you do not have one. Please call the Attorney General’s Office Civil Rights hotline at (617) 963-2917 if you experience any issues with requests by vaccine providers for IDs or health insurance cards. The MIRA Coalition has created flyers with information on the vaccine for Massachusetts immigrants and refugees in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese.
Visit https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to locate a vaccination site near you. For information on the In-Home Vaccination program for people who are unable to make it to a vaccination site, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-in-home-vaccination-program or call (833) 983-0485 for multi-lingual assistance.
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
COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination have no effect on immigration status, and are not considered in a Public Charge analysis. Also, as of March 9, 2021, the Trump Administration’s expanded Public Charge rule is no longer in effect. For more information about what this change means, 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
Under State law, workers are eligible for benefits from their employers, including earned sick time, regardless of 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
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal legislation has provided three rounds of cash payments to individuals and families, called “Economic Impact Payments” or “stimulus checks,” in the form of advance tax rebates for families who meet income qualifications. Each round of payments has different eligibility rules relating to noncitizens. Protecting Immigrant Families has a chart with information on the changes in eligibility requirements for each round of payments. Please visit the IRS website for detailed information about eligibility for each round of payments.
Federal advance child tax credit payments to families
The recently passed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides an expanded child tax credit for families with qualifying children that meet income qualifications. Half of this credit will be paid to families on a monthly basis, up to $300 per month per qualifying child, from July-December 2021. Noncitizens who file taxes using an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) may be eligible to receive the tax credit on behalf of their child dependents who have valid social security numbers and are U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or U.S. “resident aliens.” The Center for Law and Social Policy has information on how the expanded child tax credit applies to families with mixed immigration status. Visit the IRS website for more information on eligibility. To learn more about the expanded child tax credit and your rights in Massachusetts, please see the Massachusetts Attorney General’s flyer, available here in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.
Other benefits available to immigrants
A number of government benefits are available regardless of immigration status, including funds to help pay for rent provided through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program, and Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Please see the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute’s Benefits for All page or MassLegalHelp’s guide to help paying for rent 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.
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.