Immigration Status Requirements for Medicaid

To be eligible for full Medicaid or Maryland Children's Health Program coverage, most non-citizens must have a “qualified” immigration status, except for pregnant women and children under age 21, who must only be lawfully-present. 

Qualified immigration statuses include:
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs/Green Card Holders)
  • Asylees, or individuals with a pending application for asylum (only if they’ve been granted employment authorization, or are under the age of 14 and have had an application pending for at least 180 days) 
  • Refugees
  • Cuban/Haitian entrants
  • Paroled into the U.S. for at least one year
  • Conditional entrant granted before 1980
  • Battered non-citizens, spouses, children, or parents 
  • Victims of trafficking and his/her spouse, child, sibling, or parent, or individuals with a pending application for a victim of trafficking visa
  • Granted withholding of deportation
  • American Indian born in Canada

5 Year Bar 

Many individuals entering the U.S. on or after August 22, 1996 must wait 5 years after receiving a qualifying immigration status before they can become eligible for Medicaid or MCHP. This federal rule is known as the '5 year bar.' There are some exceptions to the 5 year bar rule. Lawfully-present pregnant women and children under age 21 and non-citizens with the below immigration statuses are exempt from the 5 year bar.
  • Refugees
  • Asylees, or individuals with a pending application for asylum (only if they’ve been granted employment authorization, or are under the age of 14 and have had an application pending for at least 180 days)
  • Individuals granted withholding of deportation/removal
  • Cuban/Haitian entrants
  • Amerasian immigrants
  • Trafficking survivors
  • Iraqi or Afghan special immigrant status
  • Veterans or individuals on active military duty and their spouse, un-remarried surviving spouse, or child
  • Certain American Indians born abroad
  • Individuals receiving  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Foster Care​​​
Other Health Coverage Options for Non-citizens

Qualified Health Plan

Lawfully present non-citizens who are Maryland residents are eligible to enroll in a qualified health plan​ through Maryland Health Connection. In addition, lawfully present immigrants who are not eligible for Medicaid may still qualify for tax credits to help pay premiums and cost-sharing reductions for health insurance through Maryland Health Connection if their household income is below certain limits.  For more information about qualified health plans and to apply, go to Maryland Health Connection

Emergency Medical Services 

Non-citizens who have not met the 5 year bar and those not legally in the U.S. may be eligible for Medicaid payment of emergency medical services only, including labor and delivery services for pregnant women, if all other eligibility requirements for Medicaid are met. This program is not health insurance. For more information about Medicaid for emergency medical services and to apply, please visit your local Department of Social Services.  

How is immigration Status Information Used?

Federal law requires Medicaid state agencies and health exchanges to verify the citizenship or immigration status of individuals who are requesting Medicaid coverage and other federal benefits to determine their eligibility for coverage. Information about immigration status will be used only to determine eligibility for coverage and not for immigration enforcement. Individuals who are not requesting coverage will not be asked about their immigration status.  For more information about how immigration status information is used, click here.

If we cannot verify your immigration status, you may be asked to provide documentation. For a list of types of documents that are accepted to verify immigration status, click here.