Update (10/11/19): Multiple federal courts have blocked President Trump’s Public Charge regulation from taking effect on October 15. This means that nothing has changed for applications processed within the United States!
Note: If you are applying for a green card through the consulate, discuss with your immigration attorney as the rules at the consulate may be different.
Canal Alliance strongly opposes the new regulation on public charge. It is an attack on low-income families, immigrant families, and communities of color by the Trump Administration. We encourage our community to seek legal advice from an immigration lawyer before disenrolling from public benefits. This is how you can access our services.
Every family’s situation is different! Be sure to consult with your immigration attorney before dis-enrolling in any public benefits!
What is “Public Charge”?
Public Charge is a test used by the government to determine if someone seeking admission to the United States (applying for permanent residence or green card) is likely to depend on public benefits in the future. The changes will not go into effect until October 15, 2019.**
The federal government recently expanded the factors that are included in this analysis. According to the new regulations, immigration officials will consider a variety of circumstances, including a family’s income, use of certain public benefits, age, education, and how likely the applicant is to be employed.
This test does not apply to many categories of immigrants!
Who is not affected by Public Charge?
Many immigrants do not have to worry about public charge:
- Refugees and asylees
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
- U nonimmigrant status (U visa)
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners
- T nonimmigrant status (T visa)
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Renewals*
- Other humanitarian categories
- Most Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) or “green card” holders. If you are an LPR and plan to travel for over 6 months, or plan to travel and have certain criminal convictions, it is important to speak to your immigration attorney.
- U.S. citizens
*Note: These groups are subject to a public charge test if they adjust status through a family petition.
Public Charge Test Does Apply:
- When applying to enter the United States through certain visas
- When applying to become a lawful permanent resident through a family petition
Click here to learn more.
Benefits NOT considered for Public Charge:
These are safe to use for immigrants who are eligible:
- Benefits received by immigrant’s family members
- Emergency Medi-Cal, Medi-Cal for children under 21 years old, and Medi-Cal for women while pregnant and 60 days post-partum
- Disaster relief
- Entirely state, local or tribal programs (other than cash assistance)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women Infants and Children (WIC)
- School Breakfast and Lunch
- Community Food Pantries (like Tuesdays at Canal Alliance)
- Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
- Transportation vouchers or non-cash transportation services
- Non-cash TANF benefits
- Tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
- Advance premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act
- Pell grants and student loans
The use of benefits by relatives will not affect your immigration case. For example, if someone’s child receives Medi-Cal or CalFresh it will not affect their parent’s immigration process.
** The final changes will not go into effect until October 15, 2019 (or later). Please note that there are many states, cities, counties, and advocacy groups across the country who are fighting back against this new regulation through litigation. It is possible that a federal court will issue an injunction and the rule’s implementation will be delayed or won’t take effect. We will update this page as we know what decisions are made in the courts.
If you think public charge may apply to your situation, consult with your immigration attorney to make the best decision for your family.
Find more answers to frequently asked questions here.