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Immigration and Qualifying for the Affordable Care Act Benefits

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short, is a piece of legislation that aims to provide affordable health insurance for individuals in the United States. Some key features of the ACA include improving preventative health coverage, providing tax credits for low-income individuals, protection against denial of insurance coverage, and prohibiting discrimination due to pre-existing conditions.

While these changes improve the quality and affordability of health care for millions in the United States, there is one caveat. To receive these benefits, an individual must be “lawfully present” in the country. “Lawfully present” individuals include qualified immigrants and certain categories of non-U.S. citizens who have permission to live or work in the U.S.

“Lawfully present” immigration categories include green card holders, asylees, refugees, and special immigrant juveniles. While there are a few other specific immigrant categories included, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Relief) recipients are most notably absent.

This means that DACA recipients are not eligible to apply for health insurance under the ACA. An exception to the ACA’s definition of “lawfully present” was added in August 2012 in order to specifically exclude DACA recipients. The exception simply states that those granted DACA status are not considered to be “lawfully present” for the purposes of the ACA. In the future, this exclusion could be removed for DACA recipients.

Although DACA recipients are ineligible for insurance coverage under the ACA, there is good news for families with individuals who are both covered and excluded from the definition of “lawfully present.” Federal and state Marketplaces, which sell insurance policies under the ACA, cannot require applicants to provide information about the immigration status of a family or household members who are not applying for coverage. This means that if a family member is applying for coverage, they do not have to divulge information about other family members who are not considered “lawfully present” under the ACA.

The United States immigration and naturalization laws can be complicated. Everyone’s situation is different, and no one solution is correct for every person. The experienced immigration attorneys at JRQ & Associates can evaluate your situation and help you get the resolution that you need. Our immigration attorneys can assist in all states in the United States. Contact an experienced immigration lawyer at JRQ & Associates to set up your free immigration consultation or to find out more about the services we can provide you.

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