K1 Fiancée Is Pregnant, Can We Get Health Insurance or Medicaid?
Petitioning your foreign fiancée to move to the US is stressful enough but add the fact that she is pregnant and it takes it to a whole new level of stress. If your fiancée is pregnant and you’re concerned with medical expenses when she arrives, there are a few options I’ll discuss here.
First, we need to determine if she is eligible and/or required to obtain health insurance once she arrives. Under immigration law, a K1 visa holder is entering the US as a non-immigrant. This means that it is a temporary visa similar to a tourist visa until you adjust her status. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires all legal residents of the United States to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But since a K1 visa holder isn’t considered a legal resident YET, they aren’t required or eligible to get insurance through the marketplace when they arrive.
So, during the first 90 days (or until you file I-485 to adjust status) your fiancee isn’t eligible to be added to your healthcare plan. This is true even if you get insurance through your employer.
You may be thinking “what if we get married, isn’t that a qualifying event?“. Well yes, but only if your wife is considered a lawful resident of the US. To prove lawful residence, you must apply to adjust her status. The good news is that it’s not necessary to wait until the adjustment of status is approved before you can add her to your insurance.
After filing for adjustment of status, you’ll receive a notice of action (NOA1) which can be used as proof of lawful residence when applying for health insurance.
K1 Visa and State Healthcare Exchanges
Now, if your currently unemployed or self employed and don’t get insurance through an employer, you can use the exchanges. These exchanges allow you to shop around for better priced health insurance.
I have noticed that insurance costs have actually gone up for most Americans going through the exchanges. The only people that are seeing reduced cost are those who are below the poverty line.
Immigration status that qualify to use the Marketplace:
- Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR/Green Card holder)
- Battered Spouse, Child and Parent (VAWA)
- Victim of Trafficking
- Granted Withholding of Deportation or Withholding of Removal
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
- Deferred Action Status (Exception: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA))
- Lawful Temporary Resident
- Administrative order staying removal
- Member of a federally-recognized Indian tribe
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
- Adjustment to LPR Status
You’ll need to show proof of your status when you apply for health insurance through the exchange with any of the following documents.
- Permanent Resident Card, “Green Card” (I-551)
- Reentry Permit (I-327)
- Refugee Travel Document (I-571)
- Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- Machine Readable Immigrant Visa (with temporary I-551 language)
- Temporary I-551 Stamp (on passport or I-94/I-94A)
- Arrival/Departure Record (I-94/I-94A)
- Arrival/Departure Record in foreign passport (I-94)
- Foreign Passport
- Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (I-20)
- Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (DS2019)
- Notice of Action (I-797)
- Document indicating membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe or American Indian born in Canada
- Certification from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)
- Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) eligibility letter (if under 18)
- Document indicating withholding of removal
- Administrative order staying removal issued by the Department of Homeland Security
- Alien number (also called alien registration number or USCIS number) or 1-94 number
Does K1 Fiancee Qualify For Medicaid?
Medicaid is considered a means-tested benefit by the US government. This means that a K1 visa holder isn’t eligible for state funded health care for those who are below the poverty line. Remember form I-134 that you filed with USCIS promising to financially support your fiancee? It’s to basically guarantee that you are not bringing someone over here that will then need government or state benefits.
Pregnant women that arrive on a non-immigrant K1 visa may be eligible for other local healthcare services that are not considered means-tested benefits. This is something that you’ll need to look into for your own state. Some churches provide financial assistance as well as local medical offices.
If you do apply for medicaid for your pregnant fiancee and somehow you are approved, you risk the US government coming after you for reimbursement. I’ve never heard of a case where this happened but it’s possible so be very careful.
There is a 5 year Bar to Receiving Federal Means-Tested Benefits
Some people are surprised to know that new immigrants are banned from applying for federal benefits for at least 5 years. This is to protect the American public from having to fund new immigrants that come to the US and need welfare right away. This is why you must sign the affidavit of support taking responsibility for the person you want to bring the US.
What is considered means tested benefits?
- SNAP (food stamps)
- SSI (social security)
- SCHIP (child health program)
- TANF (family assistance)
Any of the above benefits will need to be paid back to the government even if you are approved for them by the state. There has been some recent changes made by the Trump administration that will expand what is considered means-tested benefits.
There are some exceptions to this 5 year ban from using government benefits:
- those under 18 or certain elderly persons
- having a severe disability
- you have a 10-year long work history (40 qualifying quarters)
- certain humanitarian entrants
Fiancee Giving Birth Abroad and K2 Visa
You may be in a situation where your fiancee will give birth abroad before the K1 visa is approved. Of course, it’s best to have your child born in the United States, but babies tend to come whenever they want! Once your child is born they will need to be included on the visa application depending on where in the process you are.
Your child is considered a US citizen even if they are born overseas as long as one parent is also a US citizen. This makes your child ineligible for the K2 visa.
Some petitioners wonder if pregnancy is a qualifying medical emergency so they can request expedition of their case. Unfortunately, USCIS doesn’t consider pregnancy as an emergency and will deny any request to expedite the case.
If you are the biological father of the child, they will gain US citizenship but it won’t be automatic. You will need to register the birth abroad with the US consulate and may be required to take a blood test to prove you are the father. Sometimes, it is faster to try to claim your child’s citizenship than to add your child to visa application.
Once you have your child’s birth certificate, you should report the birth as soon as possible with the US consulate with the following documents:
- 2 Passport Style Photos for the mother, father and baby.
- CRBA Form DS-2029
- US Passport Application DS-11
- Statement of Consent form DS-3053
- Birth Certificate of Child
- Evidence of Parents US Citizenship
- Passport or identification for non-US Citizen parent
- Marriage Certificate
The US citizen parent doesn’t need to physically go to the consulate abroad and it can be mailed to them. Once the registration is approved, your child will receive a form called Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States (CRBA). This document (form FS-240) will be a basic US citizenship document that you can then apply for the passport for your child.
The fee for this application is $65.00
Note: the child must be under the age of 18 to qualify to register their birth abroad.
Final Thoughts on K1 Fiancee & Pregnant
Pregnancy doesn’t negatively affect your petition but you’ll need to prepare for the timing of the K1 visa approval and the birth of your child. Health insurance is extremely important in the United States, try to get it all figured out before your fiancee arrives to avoid unnecessary medical expenses. I have seen situations where the fiancee arrived in the US and gave birth within a few weeks which resulted in thousands of dollars in medical expenses.
You definitely don’t want to get caught without health insurance in the US. It is the number one reason for personal bankruptcy and can ultimately ruin your credit as well. Sometimes finding affordable insurance is a huge hurdle even if your fiancee is eligible. Check to see what it will cost to add her to your employer’s health insurance and compare that to what is offered on the state exchange.
It may not be a good idea to go with the cheapest plan because these plans will have the highest deductible. What’s the point of paying for health insurance monthly if it’s too expensive to actually use it, right?