Public Charge Rule Change: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the “public charge” policy?  New!

An evaluation of someone’s history to show the government that they are generally able to support themselves financially, and won’t be a “public charge,” relying primarily on the government for financial support. Someone will generally only be reviewed for public charge if:

  • They’re applying to come to the United States on a visa
  • They are applying to become a permanent resident and get a green card from inside the U.S.
  • They’re in deportation/removal proceedings and must defend themselves against a public charge finding.

What is considered a "public charge"?

How will the government decide if I’ll rely on their financial help?

If you are currently using, or have used one of the following programs in the past, the government could determine that you are a public charge. However, the government must consider all of your circumstances.

  • Public cash-assistance programs for income maintenance (would have to support an individual or family, and not be just supplemental in nature)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    • State-Based cash assistance
  • Long Term Institutional care
    • Funded by the Government

What is NOT considered a "public charge"?

If you use the following programs, you will not be considered for public charge

  • Some medical health emergency programs
    • Medicaid
      • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
    • State and locally-based health care programs (other than long term care)
    • Other health coverage (subsidies for insurance)
  • Nutrition assistance programs
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
    • School lunch programs
    • Food banks
  • Housing Programs
    • Subsidized housing programs
    • Section 8
    • Public housing
  • COVID related help
    • Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT)
    • Stimulus payments
    • Child tax credits
    • Emergency Rental Assistance
  • State-based programs
    • Non-cash assistance programs
  • Cash benefits based on work or earnings
    • Social Security
    • Retirement
    • Pensions
    • Veteran benefits

Find more detailed information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Each case is unique, you should consult with an attorney or an accredited organization.

If you have the following immigration status, public charge does not apply to you:
You are a US Citizen
You have permanent residency

Find more specific details.

He tried to, but the changes were reversed. The previous 1999 Public Charge policy is effective again.

Stay informed with Protecting Immigrant Families.


According to the government, “As a general rule,” what your family receives of public benefits “is not attributable to the applicant [you] for purposes of determining the likelihood that the applicant [you] will become a public charge.” Only if you, as part of your family, rely on such benefits as the “sole means of support” may you be subject to a public charge finding, but it must be done on a case-by-case basis and only upon consideration of all of your circumstances.

Because each case is unique, you should consult with an attorney or an accredited organization.

Recorded on December 16, 2020

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