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Public Charge Information & Updates

October 8, 2019

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: 

*Note: These groups are subject to a public charge test if they adjust status through a family petition. 

Public Charge Test Does Apply:

Additional resources:

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


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

Other resources: 

Read more posts in: Immigration, Public Charge

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