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Public Charge

 Updated 3/11/2020​​​​​​​​​​​​
​Get the Services You Need and Stay Informed

Every family is different. To make the right choice for your family, consult with trusted legal service providers.  

The County encourages residents to consult with legal service providers when making decisions for themselves and their families. Many immigrants  are not  subject to any U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge assessment at all, including lawful permanent residents (green card holders), unless they leave the country for more than 180 days; individuals applying for asylum or refugee status; and many other immigrants. On top of that, many benefits are not implicated by the rule. For example, neither use of WIC nor CHIP is considered under the new rule. 


These organizations provide free or low-cost legal advice on immigration and public benefits:  
  • Bay Area Legal Aid​: (408) 850-7066 English, Spanish  
  • Asian Law Alliance: (408) 287-9710 English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Tagalog, Korean, Spanish  
  • Law Foundation: (408) 293-4790* English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, and more*
    • ​*Law Foundation does not specialize in immigration law but can answer questions about using Public Benefit programs. 
Things may change quickly, so keep yourself updated by visiting www.sccgov.org/publiccharge​
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faqGroupLookupString: 1. Frequently Asked Questions about the Public Charge Rule
1. Frequently Asked Questions about the Public Charge Rule
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What is the public charge rule?
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Under the new public charge rule, someone seeking to become a lawful permanent resident or seeking to enter the country from abroad must show that they are not “likely to become a public charge” in the future, meaning that they are not likely to rely too heavily on the government for support.  To determine whether someone is “likely to become a public charge,” the government can consider an individual’s prior use of a few specific public benefits.

This rule does not apply to all immigrants. Also, it does not consider all Public Benefit programs.

If this rule applies to you, it could bar your admission to the United States if travelling from abroad or your adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (your ability to get a green card). We recommend that you consult with trusted legal service providers, listed at the bottom of this page under number 4. 

See below if the public charge rule applies to you. 
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Does the public charge rule apply to me?
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The chart below shows who is subject to the new public charge rule.

 

Immigration status

Does public charge apply to me?

Are you a U.S. Citizen?

No, the public charge rule does NOT apply to you. You should continue to use any public benefit programs you qualify for.

Are you a green card holder (Lawful Permanent Resident)?

No, the public charge rule does NOT apply to you in most circumstances. But if you plan to leave the country for more than 6 months, you should speak with an immigration attorney. 

Are you applying for a green card (family-based or employment-based Lawful Permanent Resident)?

You may be subject to the public charge rule, depending on your current status. See the row below for more information.

Are you applying for a green card and currently hold one of the following statuses:

-          VAWA self-petitioner

-          U Visa

-          T Visa

-          Refugee

-          Asylee

-          Special Immigrant Juvenile

No, the public charge rule does NOT apply to you. You should continue to use any public benefit programs you qualify for.

Are you applying for a family-sponsored immigrant visa?

Yes, you will be subject to the public charge rule.

Are you applying for or re-registering for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

No, the public charge rule does NOT apply to you. (See below if you are applying for adjustment of status).

Are you a TPS holder applying for a green card?

Yes, you may be subject to the public charge rule.


Which benefits are coutned under the public charge rule?
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The chart below shows which benefits are counted under the new public charge rule.

 

Public benefit

Does the “public charge” test consider use of this benefit?

CalWORKs

Yes.

SSI

Yes.

General assistance (GA or GR)

Yes.

Government-funded long-term care (nursing home and mental health facility)

Yes.

CalFresh (SNAP)

Yes, but only use after February 24, 2020 is considered. You do not need to report any use of this benefit before February 24, 2020.

Medi-Cal

Some types. The following Medi-Cal programs and uses are NOT considered and do NOT need to be reported: (1) emergency services (Emergency Medi-Cal), (2) Medi-Cal use by pregnant people; (3) Medi-Cal use by children under 21; (4) Medi-Cal Young Adult Expansion for undocumented and certain other immigrants under the age of 26; and (5) Medi-Cal used before February 24, 2020.

 

Other use of Medi-Cal after February 24, 2020 is considered

 

Section 8 voucher housing assistance

Yes, but only use after February 24, 2020 is considered. You do not need to report any use of this benefit before February 24, 2020.

Section 8 project-based rental assistance

Yes, but only use after February 24, 2020 is considered. You do not need to report any use of this benefit before February 24, 2020.

Other forms of subsidized housing

Yes, but only use after February 24, 2020 is considered. You do not need to report any use of this benefit before February 24, 2020.

Medicare

No.

CHIP

No.

WIC

No.

Public education

No.

Head Start

No.

Child care

No.

Social security benefits

No.

Government pensions

No.

Veteran’s benefits

No.

Unemployment benefits

No.

Worker’s compensation

No.

Do family members’ use of benefits count against me?
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The government will NOT consider the use of benefits by a family member.  
What about benefits received on behalf of someone else?
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The government will NOT consider any benefits received on behalf of someone else.
Does this rule impact eligibility for public benefits?
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The public charge rule does NOT impact eligibility for public benefits.
Should I be concerned?
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Most immigrants do not need to worry about the public charge rule. The rule only impacts people seeking admission into the country or applying for a green card. Most of these people are either not eligible to receive the public benefits considered under the public charge rule or are exempt from a public charge determination. 

If you may be subject to the public charge rule and use any of the benefits that the public charge test does consider, you may want to consult with a legal service provider to make the right choice for you.​​
Where should I go if I'm concerned?
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If you are concerned, please consult with a legal service provider. 

To make the right choice for you and your family, you can consult with a lawyer.  The County funds the following organizations that provide free or low-cost legal advice on immigration and public benefits:

  • Asian Law Alliance: (408) 287-9710 English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Tagalog, Korean, Spanish
  • Law Foundation​: (408) ​293-4790*  English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, and more. *Law Foundation does not specialize in immigration law but encourages individuals to call with questions about using public benefits.

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faqGroupLookupString: 2. Updates on What’s Happening Now
2. Updates on What’s Happening Now
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What's happening now?
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For the latest updates, visit www.sccgov.org/publiccharge

Updated 1/28/2020​
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new rule to broaden the meaning of “public charge” and expand the public benefits that can be considered in public charge inadmissibility determinations.

The rule was scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019. However, many governments and organizations challenged the rule and initially obtained court orders blocking implementation of the rule on a temporary basis. On August 13, 2019, the County of Santa Clara, along with the City and County of San Francisco, filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration to invalidate the new "public charge" rule and subsequently obtained a preliminary injunction from the federal district court barring the Trump Administration from implementing the rule while litigation was pending 

Unfortunately, several courts of appeals stayed the preliminary injunctions issued by district courts—including the injunction obtained by the County of Santa Clara. And yesterday on January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to stay the one remaining nationwide injunction, allowing the rule to take effect throughout California and most of the country. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, DHS is now free to apply the new public charge rule.  Because the new public charge rule is not retroactive, benefits used before the new rule took effect will not be considered in public charge determinations (except for past cash assistance or long-term care at government expense, which have historically been considered under previous versions of the public charge rule). 

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faqGroupLookupString: 4. Resources: Trusted Legal Service Providers
4. Resources: Trusted Legal Service Providers
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List of Organizations That Can Help
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Get the services you need and stay informed.

Every family is different. To make the right choice for your family, consult with trusted legal service providers.  

The County encourages residents to consult with legal service providers when making decisions for themselves and their families. Many immigrants  are not  subject to any U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge assessment at all, including lawful permanent residents (green card holders), unless they leave the country for more than 180 days; individuals applying for asylum or refugee status; and many other immigrants. On top of that, many benefits are not implicated by the rule. For example, neither use of WIC nor CHIP is considered under the new rule. 

These organizations provide free or low-cost legal advice on immigration and public benefits:  

  • Bay Area Legal Aid: (408) 850-7066 English, Spanish  
  • Asian Law Alliance: (408) 287-9710 English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Tagalog, Korean, Spanish  
  • Law Foundation: (408) 293-4790* English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, and more*
    • ​*Law Foundation does not specialize in immigration law but can answer questions about using Public Benefit programs. 

Things may change quickly, so keep yourself updated by visiting www.sccgov.org/publiccharge​


Last updated: 3/11/2020 2:32 PM