UPDATE (1/27/2020): The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Homeland Security can implement their new rule on “public charge” for now. They did not rule on the legal merits of the pending federal court cases, but for now, lifted the national injunctions (except in Illinois where it is still blocked by a statewide injunction). Per USCIS, the final rule will only apply to applications submitted on or after February 24, 2020. Remember, information is power!
Canal Alliance strongly opposes the new regulation on public charge. It is an attack on low-income 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 ground of inadmissibility, which means a reason someone could be denied an immigration benefit. It is a test used by the government to determine if someone seeking admission to the United States (applying for permanent residence/a green card) is likely to depend on public benefits in the future. The new changes have not yet gone into effect within the U.S. but USCIS has announced they will go into effect on February 24, 2020.
According to the new regulations, immigration officials will consider a variety of circumstances, including a family’s income, age, education, how likely the applicant is to be employed, and whether a person has used certain public programs. Please note, the new changes will not be retroactive, which means, for example, newly added benefits will not count against someone if they were used before February 24, 2020.
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
- PUBLIC CHARGE: DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?– Infographic from Protecting Immigrant Families to help you see if this new rule applies to you.
- Keep Your Benefits interactive guide to see how public charge could affect different immigration processes.
Note: Linked articles and websites do not constitute legal advice from Canal Alliance but are listed as resources.
Benefits NOT considered for Public Charge:
These are safe to use for immigrants who are eligible:
- 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
If you think public charge may apply to your situation, consult with your immigration attorney to make the best decision for your family. New clients are welcome to come to a consultation with the Canal Alliance legal team during the Thursday walk-in clinic.