In April 2011, the Legislature passed LB 465. This new law changes eligibility for some public benefit programs for certain lawful permanent residents. A lawful permanent resident (LPR) is an immigrant with a green card, who is legally admitted to the U.S. to live and work on a permanent basis. Below is a Q&A to help you understand who is affected. You can also download a .pdf fact sheet here.
■ Which programs are affected by LB 465?
LB 465 changes eligibility for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), Aid to Dependent Children, and Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled. But emergency Medicaid services, such as labor and delivery, remain available regardless of immigration status.
■ Which immigrants are affected?
LB 465 takes away eligibility for some LPRs for 5 years from the date they got LPR status. For example, if you got LPR status on January 1, 2007 you would not be eligible for benefits until January 1, 2012. But, if you have had LPR status for 5 years or more you will not be affected by this change.
■ What about “humanitarian” immigrants?
Humanitarian immigrants will continue to be eligible for public benefit programs, and will remain eligible even after they adjust to LPR status. This includes refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, Amerasian immigrants, Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants, and victims of trafficking. For example, if you are admitted to the U.S. as a refugee on January 1, 2010 you would be eligible. If you then adjust to LPR status on January 1, 2011, you would remain eligible for benefits.
■ Are there other exceptions?
Yes. Military veterans, active duty military, and their spouses and children also remain eligible.
■ What about other immigrants?
If you enter the U.S. with a non-exempt status (such as a visa, temporary protected status, employment authorization, etc.), then you later become an LPR, you will be ineligible for 5 years. For example, if you enter the U.S. with a student visa and later adjust to LPR status, you would be ineligible for benefits for 5 years.
■ What about medical assistance for pregnant women and children?
LB 465 does not change LPR eligibility for medical assistance for pregnant women and children. So, these LPRs remain eligible for medical assistance, regardless of the date they became an LPR.
■ What should I do if I get notice that I will lose benefits?
You should read the notice and make sure you think it is correct. The notice should tell you what action the agency plans to take, the reasons for the action, the specific law supporting the action, and your right to ask for a hearing.
■ What should I do if I think I am incorrectly losing benefits because of LB 465?
You have the right to appeal. The notice will tell you how to do that. You can also contact Nebraska Appleseed at 800-845-3746 and ask for the intake line.