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Benefits Immigrants Receive when They Come to the United States

According to a news report published by The New York Times in January 2023, the number of foreigners completing the immigration process of naturalization in the United States, which effectively makes them American citizens, is currently at the highest level since 2006. The resumption of naturalization ceremonies following the COVID-19 pandemic prompted almost a million immigrants to become citizens, which is the highest benefit level offered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. San Diego immigrants, as well as immigrants throughout the U.S., enjoy other benefits as well.

General Benefits

Depending on their status and reasons for residing in the U.S., immigrants are entitled to various USCIS benefits, but these shouldn’t be confused with federal, state, or community benefits. More accurately speaking, the benefits are granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but they’re managed by USCIS. The three major benefits are:

  • Employment permits for eligible immigrants before they obtain conditional or permanent resident status
  • Permanent resident status for authorized foreigners who wish to live in the U.S.—there are various visa programs that can grant this benefit
  • American citizenship through naturalization

In addition to the above, DHS works with the Department of State and USCIS to manage humanitarian programs that benefit foreigners in distress, but these aren’t actually benefits as such because they fall under the framework of the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration, so they’re part of international commitments and charters. These programs include:

  • Asylum for those who are persecuted or displaced by geopolitical turmoil
  • Refuge and resettlement for those impacted by major catastrophes, which may include armed conflict
  • Adoption of foreign minors
  • Temporary Protected Status for foreigners who plan to return to their countries when major negative conditions improve
  • Resettlement of foreigners who have been victimized by crime, war, and other deleterious situations

Federal Programs & Benefits

The popular debate over why immigrants are entitled to receive certain benefits from the federal government is based on a series of misconceptions. For the most part, federal benefits are beyond the reach of immigrants who haven’t established legal residence. In fact, accessing such benefits could result in negative adjudication, deportation, and removal. For example, Medicaid is a healthcare insurance program for low-income and disabled individuals, and it’s available to immigrants who entered the country after August 1996, but only if they’ve obtained legal status and only after five years of permanent residence. There’s also Medicaid for refugees, but they’ll need to reside in the country for seven years before they become eligible.

What immigrants must keep in mind with regard to federal benefits is that they may compromise their status under the “public charge” provisions of immigration laws. Receiving welfare benefits from the federal government prior to getting a green card could derail the immigration process, which is why it’s crucial to check with an immigration law firm prior to application. 

Hiring a highly qualified immigration attorney is one of the best ways to make the immigration process less complicated and stressful. If you need reliable, high-quality legal advice about immigration issues, reach out to the San Diego immigration attorneys at KS Visa Law. To schedule an appointment, call us today at 858-874-0711.

May 2024