View all text of Subchapter I [§ 1611 - § 1615]
§ 1611. Aliens who are not qualified aliens ineligible for Federal public benefits
(a) In general
Notwithstanding any other provision of law and except as provided in subsection (b), an alien who is not a qualified alien (as defined in section 1641 of this title) is not eligible for any Federal public benefit (as defined in subsection (c)).
(1) Subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to the following Federal public benefits:
(A) Medical assistance under title XIX of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.] (or any successor program to such title) for care and services that are necessary for the treatment of an emergency medical condition (as defined in section 1903(v)(3) of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1396b(v)(3)]) of the alien involved and are not related to an organ transplant procedure, if the alien involved otherwise meets the eligibility requirements for medical assistance under the State plan approved under such title (other than the requirement of the receipt of aid or assistance under title IV of such Act [42 U.S.C. 601 et seq.], supplemental security income benefits under title XVI of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1381 et seq.], or a State supplementary payment).
(B) Short-term, non-cash, in-kind emergency disaster relief.
(C) Public health assistance (not including any assistance under title XIX of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.]) for immunizations with respect to immunizable diseases and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases whether or not such symptoms are caused by a communicable disease.
(D) Programs, services, or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter) specified by the Attorney General, in the Attorney General’s sole and unreviewable discretion after consultation with appropriate Federal agencies and departments, which (i) deliver in-kind services at the community level, including through public or private nonprofit agencies; (ii) do not condition the provision of assistance, the amount of assistance provided, or the cost of assistance provided on the individual recipient’s income or resources; and (iii) are necessary for the protection of life or safety.
(E) Programs for housing or community development assistance or financial assistance administered by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, any program under title V of the Housing Act of 1949 [42 U.S.C. 1471 et seq.], or any assistance under section 1926c of title 7, to the extent that the alien is receiving such a benefit on August 22, 1996.
(2) Subsection (a) shall not apply to any benefit payable under title II of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 401 et seq.] to an alien who is lawfully present in the United States as determined by the Attorney General, to any benefit if nonpayment of such benefit would contravene an international agreement described in section 233 of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 433], to any benefit if nonpayment would be contrary to section 202(t) of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 402(t)], or to any benefit payable under title II of the Social Security Act to which entitlement is based on an application filed in or before August 1996.
(3) Subsection (a) shall not apply to any benefit payable under title XVIII of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.] (relating to the medicare program) to an alien who is lawfully present in the United States as determined by the Attorney General and, with respect to benefits payable under part A of such title [42 U.S.C. 1395c et seq.], who was authorized to be employed with respect to any wages attributable to employment which are counted for purposes of eligibility for such benefits.
(4) Subsection (a) shall not apply to any benefit payable under the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 [45 U.S.C. 231 et seq.] or the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act [45 U.S.C. 351
(5) Subsection (a) shall not apply to eligibility for benefits for the program defined in section 1612(a)(3)(A) of this title (relating to the supplemental security income program), or to eligibility for benefits under any other program that is based on eligibility for benefits under the program so defined, for an alien who was receiving such benefits on August 22, 1996.
(c) “Federal public benefit” defined
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), for purposes of this chapter the term “Federal public benefit” means—
(A) any grant, contract, loan, professional license, or commercial license provided by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States; and
(B) any retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States.
(2) Such term shall not apply—
(A) to any contract, professional license, or commercial license for a nonimmigrant whose visa for entry is related to such employment in the United States, or to a citizen of a freely associated state, if section 141 of the applicable compact of free association approved in Public Law 99–239 or 99–658 (or a successor provision) is in effect;
(B) with respect to benefits for an alien who as a work authorized nonimmigrant or as an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.] qualified for such benefits and for whom the United States under reciprocal treaty agreements is required to pay benefits, as determined by the Attorney General, after consultation with the Secretary of State; or
(C) to the issuance of a professional license to, or the renewal of a professional license by, a foreign national not physically present in the United States.
(Pub. L. 104–193, title IV, § 401, Aug. 22, 1996, 110 Stat. 2261; Pub. L. 105–33, title V, §§ 5561, 5565, Aug. 5, 1997, 111 Stat. 638, 639; Pub. L. 105–306, §§ 2, 5(a), Oct. 28, 1998, 112 Stat. 2926, 2927.)