Public Charge/Know Your Rights

“Public Charge” Regulation BLOCKED by the courts

Update (10/11/19): A Judge in New York has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction which stops the Department of Homeland Security’s “public charge” regulation from going into effect. This is a victory for immigrant families. The legal fight will continue, but for now, the rules in the United States have not changed. We will be updating this website in the coming days to reflect this

Families should continue to use the services for which you are eligible without fear. See how “public charge” will impact you based on your immigration status, and what you should do.

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There is already a great deal of confusion and misinformation about the new public charge rule. This page and tools attempt to make it easier for families to learn the facts and make decisions.

Above all, your family should receive what they need to be healthy, well-nourished and sheltered.

In addition to the information below, we provide a few downloadable resources for you:

What is “public charge”?

Public charge is a technical legal term used in immigration law. It is part of a screening process used by U.S. immigration officials with non-citizens who are applying for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, commonly also called getting a green card. If someone is considered to be a public charge or likely to become a public charge they won’t be able to get a green card.

The new rule will weigh a range of factors in deciding whether a person is likely to use certain public benefits in the future, and would make it much more difficult for low and moderate-income immigrants to get a green card, extend or change their temporary status in the US.

Immigration officials must consider all of an immigrant’s circumstances. The public charge statute — which cannot be changed by regulations — requires immigration officials to look at all factors that relate to noncitizens’ ability to support themselves, including their age, health, income, assets, resources, education/skills, family members they support, and family who will support them. They may also consider whether a sponsor has signed an affidavit of support (a contract) promising to support the noncitizen. Since the test looks at the person’s overall circumstances prospectively, no one factor is definitive. Any negative factor, such as not having a job, can be overcome by positive factors, such as having completed training for a new profession or having college-educated children who will help support the family.

The new test would weigh each of the following negatively in public charge decisions: earning less than 125% of the federal poverty level (FPL) or $31,375 for a family of four – and by weighing as “heavily positive” a household income of 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. To reach that threshold, a family of 4 would need to earn nearly $63,000 annually. The latter is considered a heavily weighted “positive” factor.

Other “negative” factors include being a child or a senior, having certain health conditions, limited English ability, less than a high school education, a poor credit history, and other factors.

Because the change in rules is being covered a lot in the news, some non-citizen clients may fear applying for or continuing to receive government benefits.  

The public charge rules have already changed for people seeking a visa to enter the U.S. from the U.S. Consulate in their home country.

Final Public Charge Definition

A person who “receives one or more public benefit… for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months).”

When does Public Charge come up?

A public charge assessment is made when a person:

  • Applies to enter the U.S.
  • Applies to adjust status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) – obtaining a green card
  • A green card holder leaves the U.S. for more than 180 consecutive days (6 months) and reenters

Totality of Circumstances (TOC)

New weighted factors of the totality of circumstances (TOC) test designed to make it harder for low and moderate income people to pass.

  • Income and Financial Status- Under 125% FPL (negative); Over 250% FPL (heavy positive)
  • Age – Under 18 or over 61 (negative)
  • Education and Skills
  • Health
  • Medical condition likely to require extensive treatment, institutionalization or interfere with ability to care for self, attend school or work
  • Family Status
  • Affidavit of Support

Does public charge affect all non-citizens?

No. USCIS does not screen all noncitizens who are applying for, or want to apply for, permanent resident status, to see whether they are or may become public charges.

Noncitizens in certain exempt immigration classifications are NOT subject to a public charge screening, nor will they be even if the proposed rule changes are adopted.

Who is exempt from this new rule?

Exempt immigrants – those not impacted by the new public charge rule – include: refugees; asylees; survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, or other serious crimes (T or U visa applicants/holders); VAWA self-petitioners; special immigrant juveniles; and certain people paroled into the U.S. And lawful permanent residents (green card–holders) are not subject to the public charge test when they apply for U.S. citizenship. These laws will remain in place.

Do all public benefits count for public charge?

Not all public benefits put a non-citizen at risk of being classified as a public charge.

The NEW rule expands the types of benefits that could be considered in a “public charge” determination to include key programs that provide no income support but merely help participants address their basic needs.

These programs include:

  • Medicaid (with limited exceptions including Medicaid coverage of an “emergency medical condition,” and certain disability services related to education);
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)(formerly called food stamps);
  • Federal Public Housing, Section 8 housing vouchers and Section 8 Project Based rental assistance.

In addition to the already existing “public charge” benefits:

  • Cash Assistance
  • Long-term Institutional Care

(Note: cash assistance and long-term institutional care benefits are being considered as public charge – currently.)

Newly Finalized Rule: Benefits 

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Which benefits will be EXCLUDED from the new rule?

The benefits listed below are not part of the public charge rule and you may access them – if you are eligible .

  • Disaster relief
  • Emergency medical assistance
  • Entirely state, local or tribal programs (other than cash assistance or institutionalized long-term care)
  • Benefits received by immigrant’s family members
  • CHIP
  • Women Infants and Children (WIC)
  • School Breakfast and Lunch
  • Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
  • Transportation vouchers and non-cash transportation services
  • Non-cash TANF benefits
  • Federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
  • Student Loans
  • Employment and Job Training Programs
  • Legal Assistance

Is my personal information safe?

Federal and state laws protect the privacy of people who apply for or receive health care coverage, nutrition, economic support, or other public benefits. Applications for public programs should not request information about the immigration status of non-applicants in the household. Benefit agencies may share information with other government agencies only for purposes of administering their programs, with limited exceptions. You can provide only the information necessary and should not misrepresent anything when completing public benefit applications or dealing with any government agency.

What are the other exemptions I should be aware of?

  • DHS will not consider benefits received by an applicant’s family members, or any programs not specifically listed in the rule.
  • DHS will not consider programs funded entirely by states, localities or tribes, with exceptions for cash assistance and long-term care programs.
  • The regulation also proposes to exclude benefits received by active duty service members, military reservists and their spouses and children.

When will the rule take effect?

The rule will take effect 60 days or as of October 15, 2019. However, the rule will not be retroactive. This means that benefits — other than cash or long-term care at government expense — that are used before the rule is final and effective will not be considered in the public charge determination.

Will I be deported?

The new rule does not interpret or expand the public charge ground of deportability. Under current law, a person who has become a public charge can be deported only in extremely rare circumstances. The Department of Justice may propose a separate rule that addresses this ground.

If your family plans to apply for a green card or visa outside of the United States, you should talk with an expert for advice before making any decisions. For free or low-cost options near you, visit www.immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/legaldirectory. Help is available in many languages.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • The rule is not in effect yet.
    • Applies only to applications submitted on or after October 15, 2019.
    • Newly named benefits used prior to that date will not be considered
  • Not everyone is subject to the rule.
    • Many immigrants are exempt from the public charge inadmissibility ground.
    • Benefits used by family members will not be counted.
  • Positive factors can be weighed against negative factors in this forward-looking test.
  • Every situation is different.
    • You can consult with an immigration attorney if you have questions about your own case.

Follow HUF’s Public Charge/Know Your Rights Campaign on Twitter.

Thank you to Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) for their ongoing analysis and support on this important “interior” immigration topic.  

The content of this page was curated & produced by Hispanic Unity of Florida, Inc. _________________________________________________________________

Posted on August 14, 2019

Today, DHS announced the updated “Public Charge” Rule effective October 15, 2019. Below is their official announcement.

Hoy DHS anuncio la nueva regla final de “Carga Publica” que va ser efectiva 15 de octobre 2019. Continue para leer mas detalles. 


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a final rule that clearly defines the long-standing public charge inadmissibility law.

DHS has revised the definition of public charge to better ensure that aliens subject to the public charge inadmissibility ground, found at section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), are self-sufficient. By law, in determining whether an alien is inadmissible under this ground, the government must at a minimum consider the alien’s age; health; family status; assets, resources, and financial status; and education and skills; and may consider any required affidavit of support.

The final rule defines the term public charge to mean an alien who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in total, within any 36-month period. The rule further defines the term public benefit to include cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and subsidized public housing.

This list of public benefits in the final rule is an exhaustive list with respect to non-cash benefits. However, cash benefits for income maintenance may include a variety of general purpose means-tested cash benefits provided by federal, state, local, or tribal benefit granting agencies, and only public benefits specifically listed in the rule will be considered. Public benefits not listed in the rule are not considered in the public charge inadmissibility determination. The rule does not include, for example, consideration of emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch programs, foster care and adoption, Head Start, or student or home mortgage loans.

This rule also clarifies that DHS will not consider the receipt of designated public benefits received by an alien who, at the time of receipt, or at the time of filing the application for admission, adjustment of status, extension of stay, or change of status, is enlisted in the U.S. armed forces, or is serving in active duty or in any of the Ready Reserve components of the U.S. armed forces, and will not consider the receipt of public benefits by the spouse and children of such service members. The rule further provides that DHS will not consider public benefits received by children, including adopted children, who will acquire U.S. citizenship under INA 320, 8 U.S.C. 1431.

Similarly, DHS will not consider the Medicaid benefits received: (1) for the treatment of an “emergency medical condition,” (2) as services or benefits provided in connection with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (3) as school-based services or benefits provided to individuals who are at or below the oldest age eligible for secondary education as determined under State or local law, (4) by aliens under the age of 21, and (5) by pregnant women and by women within the 60-day period beginning on the last day of the pregnancy.

The final rule also establishes the totality of the circumstances standard for determining whether an alien is likely at any time in the future to become a public charge, which includes weighing, at a minimum, the alien’s age; health; family status; assets; resources and financial status; education and skills; prospective immigration status; expected period of admission; and sufficient affidavit of support under section 213A of the INA. No single factor alone, including the receipt of public benefits, is outcome determinative: The determination of an alien’s likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future must be based on the totality of the alien’s circumstances and by weighing all of the factors that are relevant to the alien’s case.

This rule also explains how USCIS will exercise its discretionary authority, in limited circumstances, to offer an alien inadmissible only on the public charge ground the opportunity to post a public charge bond. The final rule sets the minimum bond amount at $8,100 (adjusted for inflation); the actual bond amount would be dependent on the individual’s circumstances.

This rule also makes nonimmigrants in the United States who have received, since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or from which they seek to change, designated public benefits above the designated threshold generally ineligible for extension of stay and change of status.

Importantly, this regulation does not apply to humanitarian-based immigration programs such as refugees, asylees, special immigrant juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims, victims of qualifying criminal activity, or victims of domestic violence.

The final rule applies to applications and petitions postmarked (or, if applicable, submitted electronically) on or after the effective date of the final rule. Applications and petitions pending with USCIS on the effective date of the final rule will be adjudicated under the 1999 Interim Field Guidance. In addition, the final rule contains special provisions for the consideration of public benefits received before the effective date of the final rule: any benefits excluded from consideration under the 1999 Interim Field Guidance (for example, SNAP, Section 8 Housing Vouchers) that are received before the effective date of the final rule will not be considered; any public benefits that would have been considered under the 1999 Interim Field Guidance and are received before the effective date of the final rule will be considered in the totality of the alien’s circumstances, but will not be weighted heavily.

In the coming weeks, USCIS will conduct engagement sessions to ensure that the public understands which benefits are included in the rule and which are not.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and Instagram (@USCIS).

Kind regards,

Public Engagement Division

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services


El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de Estados Unidos (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos (USCIS, por sus siglas en inglés) anunciaron hoy una regla final que define claramente la ley vigente desde hace tiempo sobre inadmisibilidad por carga pública.

DHS ha revisado la definición de carga pública para garantizar que los extranjeros sujetos a la causal de inadmisibilidad por carga pública indicada en la sección 212 (a)(4) de la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad (INA, por sus siglas en inglés), sean autosuficientes. Por ley, al determinar si un extranjero es inadmisible bajo esta causal, el gobierno debe, como mínimo, considerar la edad del extranjero, salud, estatus familiar, bienes, recursos y situación financiera, educación y habilidades, y puede tomar en consideración cualquier declaración jurada de patrocinio económico requerida.

La regla final define el término carga pública como un extranjero que recibe uno o más beneficios públicos designados por más de 12 meses, en total, dentro de cualquier período de 36 meses. La regla define además el término beneficio público para incluir beneficios en efectivo con fines del mantenimiento de ingresos o sustento, Seguridad de Ingreso Suplementario (SSI, por sus siglas en inglés), Asistencia Temporal para Familias Necesitadas (TANF, por sus siglas en inglés), Programa de Asistencia Nutricional Suplementaria (SNAP, por sus siglas en inglés), la mayoría de los tipos de Medicaid, Asistencia de Vivienda (Sección 8) bajo el Programa de Vales de Elección de Vivienda, Asistencia de Alquiler Basada en Proyectos de Sección 8, y vivienda pública subsidiada.

La lista de beneficios públicos en la regla final es una lista exhaustiva con respecto a los beneficios que no son en efectivo. Sin embargo, los beneficios en efectivo para mantenimiento de ingresos pueden incluir una variedad de beneficios en efectivo basados en recursos económicos verificados para propósitos generales proporcionados por agencias federales, estatales, locales o tribales que otorgan beneficios, y solo serán considerados los beneficios públicos listados específicamente en la regla. Los beneficios públicos que no están listados en la regla no son considerados en la determinación de inadmisibilidad por carga pública. La regla no incluye, por ejemplo, la consideración de asistencia médica de emergencia, ayuda por desastres, programas nacionales de alimentos escolares, acogida temporal y adopción, Head Start, o préstamos estudiantiles o hipotecas.

Esta regla también aclara que DHS no considera el recibo de beneficios públicos designados recibidos por un extranjero que, al momento de recibir el beneficio o al momento de presentar la solicitud para admisión, ajuste de estatus, extensión de estadía, o cambio de estatus está alistado en las Fuerzas Armadas de Estados Unidos o en servicio activo o en cualquiera de los componentes de la Reserva Lista de las Fuerzas Armadas de Estados Unidos, y no considerará el recibo de beneficios públicos por el cónyuge e hijos de dicho militar. La regla también establece que DHS no considerará beneficios públicos recibidos por niños, incluidos niños adoptados, que adquieran la ciudadanía bajo INA 320, 8 U.S.C. 1431.

De manera similar, DHS no considerará los beneficios de Medicaid recibidos: (1) para el tratamiento de una “condición médica de emergencia”, (2) como servicios o beneficios proporcionados en relación con la Ley de Educación para Personas con Discapacidades, (3) servicios o beneficios relacionados con las escuelas proporcionados a personas que tienen o están por debajo de la edad máxima de elegibilidad para educación secundaria según determinada por la ley estatal o local, (4) por extranjeros menores de 21 años, y (5) por mujeres embarazadas y mujeres que están dentro del periodo de 60 días a partir del último día de embarazo.

La regla final también establece la totalidad de las circunstancias estándar para determinar si es probable que un extranjero se convierta en una carga pública en algún momento en el futuro, lo que incluye, como mínimo, las siguientes consideraciones sobre el extranjero: su edad, salud, estatus familiar, activos, recursos y situación financiera, educación y capacitación, estatus migratorio prospectivo, período esperado de admisión, y declaración jurada de patrocinio económico conforme a la sección 213A de INA. Ningún factor por sí solo, incluido el recibo de beneficios públicos, es determinante del resultado: la determinación de la probabilidad de que un extranjero se convierta en una carga pública en algún momento futuro debe estar basado en la totalidad de las circunstancias del extranjero y con la consideración de todos los factores que son relevantes en el caso del extranjero.

Esta regla también explica cómo USCIS ejercerá su autoridad discrecional, en circunstancias limitadas, para ofrecer a un extranjero inadmisible solo en relación a la causal de carga pública la oportunidad de pagar una fianza por carga pública. La regla final establece el monto mínimo de la fianza en $8,100 (ajustada para la inflación). El monto real de la fianza dependerá de las circunstancias de la persona.

Esta regla también hace que los no inmigrantes en Estados Unidos que han recibido beneficios públicos designados por encima del límite máximo desde la obtención del estatus de no inmigrante o el que desde el que busca cambiar, generalmente no sean elegibles para obtener una extensión de estadía o cambiar su estatus.

Es importante destacar que esta regulación no aplica a los programas de inmigración basados ​​en razones humanitaria, como los programas de refugiados, solicitantes de asilo, jóvenes inmigrantes especiales (SIJ), algunas víctimas de la trata de personas, víctimas de una actividad delictiva cualificada, o víctimas de violencia doméstica.

La regla aplica a solicitudes y peticiones mataselladas (o, si aplica, presentadas electrónicamente) en o después de la fecha de efectividad de la regla final. Las solicitudes y peticiones que están pendientes con USCIS el día en que entra en efecto la regla final, serán adjudicadas bajo la Guía Provisional de Campo de 1999. Además, la regla final contiene disposiciones especiales para la consideración de beneficios públicos recibidos antes de la fecha de efectividad de la regla final: cualquier beneficio excluido de consideración bajo las Guías Provisionales de Campo de 1999 (por ejemplo, SNAP, cupones de vivienda bajo Sección 8) que sea recibido antes de la fecha de efectividad de la regla final no será considerado; cualquier beneficio público que haya sido considerado bajo las Guías Provisionales de Campo de 1999 y sea recibido antes de la fecha de efectividad de la regla final será considerado en la totalidad de las circunstancias del extranjero, pero no tendrá mucho peso.

En las próximas semanas, USCIS llevará a cabo sesiones de enlace para asegurar que el público entienda cuáles beneficios están incluidos en la regla y cuáles no.

Para más información de USCIS y sus programas, por favor visite uscis.gov o síganos en Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), e Instagram (@USCIS).

Atentamente,

División de Enlace Publico

Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos